Chicago Heights Comes Together in Harsh Weather
Saturday, January 11, 2014
There’s no denying the new year has started off rough when it comes to weather, with bitter cold and heavy snowfalls blanketing Illinois over the past two weeks.
The City of Chicago Heights has handled it’s share of the harsh weather with a lot of teamwork, and it all started at the end of 2013.
On Monday, Dec. 30, a Chicago Heights pastor posted on Facebook that he had several homeless women and children with nowhere to go. Longtime Chicago Heights photojournalist Mary Compton saw the posting and contacted Third Ward Ald. Wanda Rodgers, who then got in touch with Mayor David Gonzalez and Chief of Staff Lisa Aprati.
The mayor’s office worked for hours to find a solution, eventually reaching out to First Ward Ald. Walter Mosby, who is also the Pastor of Greater Faith Baptist Church in Chicago Heights. Mosby agreed to let the group of 25 women and children to stay at his church for the next two days.
“That was an instance where we were presented with an opportunity to help some people out that really needed it,” Gonzalez said. “I think anyone able to help would have done the same. I’m thankful to everyone who was involved with getting those families somewhere warm to stay over the New Year holiday.”
But Dec. 30 was just the first of two Mondays full of bitter cold and snow. Jan. 6 was even worse with heavy snow and low temperatures leading to all schools and several institutions closing.
Once again the City of Chicago Heights sprung into action. This time the mayor’s office, the police department and several local institutions came together to make sure those without heat still had a way to stay warm on Monday and Tuesday.
The Bloom Township Center and the Police Department acted as warming centers. City Clerk and Library Board President Lori Wilcox also kept the Chicago Heights Public Library open, solely as a warming center. At the end of the day, when the library was closing, Bloom Township provided buses to take people without homes to PADS shelters.
Chief of Staff Lisa Aprati thanked Police Chief Charles Guiliani for helping to coordinate the effort.
“It was great to see such teamwork between Bloom Township, the library and the police department,” Aprati said. “Chief Guiliani was very helpful, making sure there were officers on the buses to help escort people to the PADS shelters.”