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Township News

Awakening To Greatness

With the theme “Awakening to Greatness,” and a call for leadership to begin, Thornton  Township hosted its annual Martin Luther King event. Taking place at South Suburban College Kindig Performing Arts Center and sponsored by the Thornton Township Human Relations Commission, more than 500 people heard the uplifting words of powerful speakers and performances by School District #205 students. 

 “Love everyone, don’t hate, fairness, nonviolence, and equality were a few morals and principles Dr. King implemented in his lifetime,” said Linda Wyley, of Chicago, who attended the event. “He set a great example for the young people. MLK was just a great role model.” 

This event was a great way to bring several people from many different backgrounds together in one place. With special appearances from District 205 and 150 band and mixed choir, Jada Johnson, Dyimond Moore, Zion Hurndon, Kayode Adebogun and keynote speaker Dr. Chandra Gill. 

The keynote speaker Dr. Chandra Gill CEO of “Blackademically Speaking,” went through several themes during her speech that touched personal moments for everyone who attended. 

She preached, educated and shared some life stories. Some of the wise words from her included “You are not going to give a beggar $50 because they asked for it,  so America isn’t going to give you freedom because you asked for it. You have to fight for it.” 

Dr. Gill made that message clear and she said it is as easy as ABC.

 “A is for attitude. I need you to stop apologizing for those who can’t see our greatness. Don’t lose your greatness for people who don’t understand your greatness. Lose those who don’t get your greatness. B is for behavior. Your behavior has to be alignment with your character. Dignity and integrity still matter. C is for champions break chains. I need us to know and understand we left the plantation, but the plantation aint left us. Break the chains of fear and failure,” said Gill.

Dr. King was an African American Christian minister and activist who lead the Civil Rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Some would say they know him from his “I Have A Dream” speech; however, Dr. King was more than just one speech. He risked his life daily to lead, fight, and speak for a large sum of the American population. He championed people being treated equally and having basic human rights. Dr. King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the march on Washington, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He was by far one of America’s most selfless leaders in American history. It is only right to have a day out of the year to celebrate and remember all that he accomplished in his short 39 years of life. 

Dr. King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” With all Dr. King did for his people, he stood tall by this sentiment.

Thornton Township would like to thank everyone who helped with the event and everyone who came out to the event. Please join us at our future events and next year when we host the next Martin Luther King Day Celebration.

Thornton Township Wins Two Awards

Thornton Township once again was a winner at the annual Township Officials of Illinois Conference in Springfield. The township won two awards, which adds up to 10 awards in the past four years. 

Thornton Township Supervisor Frank M. Zuccarelli was the recipient of the 2019 Robert Turner Award, presented by Sherrill Knorr, Reed Township supervisor. The Robert Turner award is given by the president of the Township Supervisors of Illinois to the supervisor who displays an extraordinary dedication to township government in their role.

Named after the late Bob Turner (1932-2008), the person who receives the award embodies the characteristic work ethic and attitude that Turner, who received the first award in 2006.

Thornton Township also received the 2019 Best Township Innovative Program, presented by Illinois Township Association of General Assistance Caseworkers President Mary Jo Imperato. Thornton Township was given this award because of its Emergency Financial Assistance program. 

Veterans Day

Thornton Township honored the area veterans who have fought bravely for our country during our annual Veterans Day event. The township gave each veteran an individual pin to show its appreciation and served each veteran a free buffet dinner. The event was held at our senior center in Calumet City.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township supervisor. “We remember the sacrifices they made and the courage it takes to defend honor, duty, and country. Thinking of the heroes who join us that day  and those who are here only in spirit, we stand here as a family.”

The keynote speaker was Teresa Chandler, who has worked for taxpayers at the Cook County Assessor’s Office for over 20 years. She serves as a Community Outreach Specialist in the Communications Department and is the Township Assessor Liaison for all 38 townships throughout Cook County.

“There are so many brave men and women who have served,” said Chandler. “We want to thank all the veterans for answering the call and serving our country. Because of you we have the freedom of speech and so much more.”

Thornton Township appreciates the service members as they possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity. They were called to be part of something bigger than themselves. They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in extreme times. They rose to the nation’s call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them, us, so much. The Lansing Ceremonial Honor Guard and Neil Venhuizen from Post #845, lead the ceremony playing TAPS. Reverend Jesse Burrage of Burnham lead the crowd in prayer throughout the event.  

“ We understand that we can do more together than we can ever do apart. This country was built on people working together and finding a common bond,” said Zuccarelli. “They lead by example showing what true leadership looks like. We must also acknowledge the family members of the soldiers. We know you have all lived through difficult times and often took on the heavy load to keep everything running smoothly at home.”

Thornton Township Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Culture is a way to bring families, communities and future generations together. In our
society today, we are so pre-occupied with school, work and family that we tend to stray from
our cultural customs. The Thornton Township Hispanic Heritage Celebration reminded the
community about the importance of culture. The event, which took place in late September as
part of Hispanic Heritage Month at the Thornton Township Senior Center in Calumet City, was
filled with cultural food, history, music and dance.

“Events like these provides different perspectives of cultures and educates the community
on the importance of it in our everyday lives,” said Bert Rivera of Lansing, co-chair of the event
and member of the township Human Relations Commission. He also mentions the importance of
understanding the history of the Hispanic culture and how it originated.

“The more we know about each other, the more we learn to love each other and that’s
what’s most important,” said Rivera. “Learning to respect and accept others for their religious
and cultural backgrounds is an important factor.

The event was a wonderful way to bring families and friends together.

“When I first heard about this event, I thought it was a great opportunity because I’m
Hispanic and it is important that my daughter understands her cultural background,” said Yahira
Isidoro from Griffin, Indiana. “There are always new ways to learn about different cultures and
even cultures that we originate from, and this event shared the true meaning of culture.”
Others mark their calendars every September for the celebration.

“I attend this event every year and similar events because it gives me the opportunity to
explore different cultures and their meaning,” said Wyonnie Woffre from South Holland, IL.
The keynote speaker was Marilu Gonzalez. She has been a District #205 teacher for more
than 11 years and received bachelor’s in education in Physical Education at Chicago State
University and masters in Educational Leadership at Concordia University. She was the head
women’s coach at South Suburban College for eight years and is an alumnus of Thornridge High
School and Coolidge Middle School.

She spoke out about her life growing up as a Hispanic in Harvey IL, and the challenges
she faced throughout her life. She mainly spoke of how important culture is and how it was an
influential factor in her life and the life of others. “Culture is viewing the way other people live,
and through sharing these stories, you wouldn’t believe how strong the impact of sharing culture
is,” she added.

The Thornton Township Hispanic Heritage Celebration was a momentous event that
taught the true meaning of culture and brought together a diverse community.

“It is important to celebrate other peoples’ cultures and history, and to understand how it
all originated gives me a different perspective on the Hispanic culture” said Patricia Patterson
from Calumet City.

18th Annual Taste Of Thornton Township

Betty Jones watched as her grandchildren and others jumped, danced and hugged some of their favorite superheroes and princesses. She could see the joy in the room full of excited children as they spent a few hours living out the south suburb version of Disney World.

“I heard about this event and I greatly appreciate it because it offers opportunities to meet new people from the neighborhood and it gives the children a chance to meet and make friends with other children their age,” said Jones. “The children could not have been happier.”

It was just another aspect of the successful 18th annual Taste of Thornton Township event which took place on a beautiful summer day at South Suburban College, 15800 State Street in South Holland. The morning began with a breakfast, where superheroes and princesses ate with the children and the parents. During this event, children participated in coloring activities, photographs, dance parties and ate breakfast with their families and fictional heroes.

Not only was there an incredible turnout, but it was an opportunity for the parents and the children to enjoy a family-friendly event that was free to the community.

“This is an event that has been a staple at Thornton Township for years and it continues to grow. We add more superheroes and princesses and more entertainment for the kids,” said Paula Counts, a Thornton Township Human Relations Commissioner who helps coordinate the event.” We heard incredible feedback and we appreciate all the kind words that families have told us about the event. They mention how very few events offered are free.”

 At the end of the breakfast, volunteers handed out backpacks to the children to start the school year off with a fresh start. Immediately preceding the breakfast was the festive Taste of Thornton Township where it was filled with local food vendors, crafts, live music and performances, free carnival rides and games, and free petting zoo amongst the free activities and amenities.  There were hundreds of people and families who joined the event and each person appreciated different aspects and qualities about it. Some came for the rides while others arrived later for the live music.

“We had an incredible turnout once again this year. This event gets bigger and better with each year,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township supervisor. “These kinds of events not only provide a great service but focus on bringing the community together and creating everlasting memories.”

Riverdale Wins Third Annual Taste Of Thornton Township Basketball Tournament

The Third annual Taste of Thornton Township basketball tournament crowned the Riverdale Park District team as champions. This year the tournament was bigger in several ways. Eight teams participants in the double elimination tournament which was the largest ever. In addition, the crowd filled the South Suburban College bleachers. More than 150 people were in attendance for the tournament that combines police, firefighters, those employees and teenagers playing on the same team with the pride of their town. Riverdale Police and Fire Department came in second, while the Harvey Police Department came in third. 

“This tournament was one of the best for many reasons. The large crowd watching the early game really elevated the enthusiasm and energy in the building,” said Ernst Lamothe Jr., township communication manager Typically, communities have police officers and kids playing against each other in a basketball tournament; however, Thornton Township officials, decided the alternative made more sense.

“The way you make a community stronger is working together, loving each other, and knowing each other,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township supervisor. “We shouldn’t have kids and police officers on opposite teams. We should have them side by side helping lift each other up. This is something we are going to do every year, and it is going to be bigger and better.”

Riverdale Park District lost the first game of the double-elimination tournament and then ran the table and won five consecutive games to win the championship.

“We are so thankful that the township organizes programs like this,” said Kendall Parrott, executive director of the Riverdale Park District. “You were impressed on how coordinated and high-level this tournament was. We plan to be part of it for years to come and hopefully repeat as champions next year.”

The five-on-five basketball tournament, which was held at South Suburban College, is an example of many Thornton Township’s programs that focus on police officers and teenagers learning more about each other.

“You could immediately see that the basketball tournament really brought the officers and teenagers together. They huddled with each other, and encouraged and supported one another throughout the day,” said Lamothe Jr. “We saw police officers, firefighters and village employees putting their arms around teenagers and just sitting down and having good conversations, laughing together and having a great time.”

“We pride ourselves on creating new and exciting programs they both entertain and bring together our residents. This basketball tournament is just another example of that,” added Jerry Jones, Thornton Township board member.

Thornton Township Will Offer STEM and STEAM Programs To Students & Families

Thornton Township Will Offer STEM and STEAM Programs To Students & Families

South Holland, IL – Frank M. Zuccarelli, Supervisor, and Thornton Township Board of Trustees will sponsor STEM/STEAM Programs in Thornton Township. According to Wikipedia, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a program designed to group together these academic disciplines. STEM is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy.

According to NPJ Science of Learning, STEAM represents STEM plus the arts – humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. For educators, there is now a greater need for (STEM) concepts to integrate with the arts (STEAM) across the wider curriculum. This is because business and industry broadcast that future-ready employees need to have multiple areas of expertise or at least appreciate how a range of skills fit together.

Thornton Township is the largest township in the State of Illinois and will seek to implement programs to target minority students.

Dr. Jerry Weems, head of the STEM/STEAM programs and Thornton Township’s Director of Youth & Family Services said, “Through our innovative STEM/STEAM [grant] proposal, Thornton Township proposes to serve all 17 cities and towns that constitute Thornton Township. Those municipalities include: South Holland, Calumet City, Harvey, Riverdale, Dolton, Phoenix, Blue Island, Lansing, Hazel Crest, East Hazel

Crest, Glenwood, Thornton, Dixmoor, Burnham, Homewood, Markham, Posen and others.”

“Our principal objectives are to foster a learning environment throughout the educational school year and summer months that focuses on enriching the lives of our student participants and their families culturally, socially, scholastically, and physically by offering structured, creative, active, and integrative programming that strategically embeds heart-centered, community-based STEM/STEAM philosophies and curriculum throughout its design,” stated Weems.

The main difference between STEM and STEAM is STEM explicitly focuses on scientific concepts. STEAM investigates the same concepts, but does this through inquiry and problem-based learning methods used in the creative process.

NPJ Science of Learning also states that STEAM education in schools provides students with the opportunity to learn creatively, using 21st century skills such as problem solving. These general capabilities are crucial to growing a future-ready workforce that understands the potential of “what if” when solving problems that occur in real life.

This education also points in the direction of 22nd century skills – connection, care, community and culture.

Weems continues to say, “Our target population is primarily lower and working class African-American, Latino, and White students (boys and girls) from pre-K through high school. The program endeavors to work with over 300 students, their caregivers (approximately 450), approximately 100 youth and adult staff and 50 volunteers. So, we anticipate working with a total of 900 individuals throughout the administration of this grant.”

Thornton Township will sponsor the 2019 Free Summer Camp Program emphasizing STEM. The program will be headed up by India Blakely, Program Developer. According to Ms. Blakely, “This year’s Summer STEM Program (also known as Summer Enrichment Program) has extended in several ways. First, we have expanded our partnerships to include Law & Civics Reading & Writing Institute, 29th District Representative Thaddeus Jones, Illinois Math & Science Academy, Jones Foundation, and South Suburban College. These new partnerships have allowed us to expand our STEM curriculum and capacity. My role as a Program Developer, gives me the opportunity to bring the pieces together to offer high quality programming to Thornton Township residents ages 7 – 13. Not only has our partner base extended, but our core planning and developing team bring knowledge and experience to significantly help the wonderful residents of Thornton Township grow. Our instruction and activities in STEM and other areas of knowledge, are powerful tools.”

According to Thornton Township’s flyer the 2019 Free Summer Camp Program:
June 10 – August 1, 2019
[Mondays – Thursdays], 9AM – 3PM, Ages 7-13 years old;
[Fridays – Saturdays], 9AM – 3PM, All Ages (Early childhood, Youth, Adults, and Seniors).

You must live in Thornton Township.

For Registration:
Parent/Legal Guardian & Youth must be present
Bring Valid State ID/Driver’s License showing Thornton Township address Bring Utility Bill that matches above ID
Bring most recent Report Card, Progress Report, and School Physical

For More Information regarding Summer STEM Program: Contact Ms. India Blakely at 708/596-6040, Ext. 2015.

Women Of Honor Luncheon

Women’s History Month. Frank M. Zuccarelli, Supervisor and Thornton Township Human Relations Commission celebrated Women’s History Month by hosting the 11th Annual Women of Honor Brunch.

The Women of Honor Brunch recognized four women for their contributions to society. The 2019 Honorees are Stacey E. Baca, Darlene Gray Everett, Johnnie M. Lane, and Debra Shore.

“Women’s history month is very important to us because I think we have some incredible women in the area who are doing great work for the love of the work. We want to recognize their achievements,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township Supervisor. Thornton Township Senior Trustee Joyce M. Washington and Event Chairperson believes it is important to celebrate the contributions of women in our society, and this very important event highlights the contributions of these women in our communities.

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