Located on the south side of Chicago, the Grand Boulevard community is home to several historic institutions. The area is also known to many for its neighborhood of Bronzeville.
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the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church is one of the historical institutions. It is a Chicago landmark that has stood in the neighborhood for nearly 120 years.
Many influential people passed through the church, especially during the civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr. This church is also known as the birthplace of gospel music.
Now the church hopes to receive a $900,000 grant through a municipal program to help with repairs and renovations.
“It’s going to go to the roof, point to the HVACs, the things that we need to fix or restore. It’s a beautiful building, and it’s a treasure for Chicago, and we want this space to be available for the next generation of Chicagoans to continue to do the work of ministry in our community,” said Reverend Darryl Person. .
A few blocks from the church is Provident Hospital of Cook County, where the nation’s first open-heart surgery took place in 1893.
Dr. Claudia Fegan, Chief Medical Officer of Cook County Health, said they are feeling the impact of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the city. She also mentioned the concern surrounding the holidays and COVID-19.
“We are seeing more and more patients with COVID, and we are also seeing people who have not received care. They had delayed care because they were hesitant to come and so the hospital count is very high,” Fegan said.
With Christmas approaching and concerns about the omicron variant approaching, doctors and officials are asking people not to let their guard down.
Ald of the region. Pat Dowell said the Grand Boulevard community has one of the lowest vaccination rates.
“Zip code 60653, which is the Grand Boulevard community, the number is below 77%, closer to 67%, so we have a ways to go. I think a lot of millennials have vaccine misconceptions and probably some of our seniors who have the same misconception,” Dowell said.
Many Grand Boulevard businesses have felt the economic impact of the pandemic, but the owner of Chicago’s Chicken and Waffle House on King Drive says he got lucky.
Darnell Johnson opened the restaurant in 2008 and was able to stay afloat — even at the height of the pandemic — thanks to third-party delivery apps.
“We were ahead of the curve. We started third-party delivery about seven years ago. We were one of the few who believed in third party delivery – it’s a numbers game if you do numbers you make money… so when the pandemic hit we were right on top places where you would call him to get food,” Johnson said.
However, the restaurant struggled to find enough staff like other small businesses.
But the customers kept coming. Restaurant patrons this week say it’s the hospitality and the food that draw them.
“When our customers walk through the door, we welcome them to our home. This is our home and in those doors there is nothing but love, nothing but good people, supportive people and when they walk in , we show them love and we treat everyone with respect. It’s like a safe haven,” said Brian Mills, manager of Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.
Centers for New Horizons is a non-profit organization based in the region, but works throughout the city.
“We have a history of about 50 years and in fact we are celebrating 50 years this year. In the community specifically, we do work centered around childcare, we also work on workforce development, working with individuals to help them get jobs, job training, as well than the violence prevention work that we do,” said Cleophus Lee, Director. violence prevention and intervention programs at the Centers for New Horizons.
Video: Watch our full interview with Cleophus Lee.
Bringing the holiday spirit to King Drive
King Drive – named after Martin Luther King Jr. – was once called Grand Boulevard, hence the name of the community area.
Chatham-based My Block, My Hood, My City drapes King Drive in Christmas lights for the fourth consecutive year as part of its Be part of the light initiative. From 51st and King Drive, starting at the southern border of Grand Boulevard to 112th and King Drive, the organization decorated homes and streetlights with bows, ribbons, garlands and lights.
“I got tired of seeing police car headlights, helicopter headlights and drone headlights on King Drive. I wanted to see some holiday lights. There’s nothing inspiring about ordering your food through bulletproof windows, there’s nothing inspiring about seeing the lights of a helicopter, so to interrupt that trauma and inspire hope, we started hanging Christmas lights on homes and Christmas lights on poles,” said Jahmal Cole, founder of My block, my neighborhood, my city.
Video: Watch our full interview with Jahmal Cole.
Community Report Series
“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re taking to the streets to talk with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we went and what we learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Dots in Red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.