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Greater Chatham Initiative Hosts Greater Chatham Strong Fundraising Gala

11/28/2018, noon | Updated on 11/28/2018, noon
The Greater Chatham Initiative recently hosted their inaugural fundraising gala, Greater Chatham Strong, at the Stony Island Arts Bank. Funds ...
Nedra Sims-Fears (pictured) is the executive director of the Greater Chatham Initiative, an economic development organization working in Avalon Park, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, and Greater Grand Crossing. Photo Credit: Greater Chatham Initiative

Greater Chatham Initiative Hosts Greater Chatham Strong Fundraising Gala

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

The Greater Chatham Initiative recently hosted their inaugural fundraising gala, Greater Chatham Strong, at the Stony Island Arts Bank. Funds from the event will be used to further the organization’s mission to invest in the communities of Avalon Park, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, and Greater Grand Crossing.

“The Greater Chatham Initiative was founded about 2 years ago and it is an economic development organization that focuses on four communities that we call Greater Chatham. The neighborhoods are Avalon Park, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, and Greater Grand Crossing and anyplace else these four neighborhoods would be considered a mid-size city,” said Nedra Sims-Fears, executive director of the Greater Chatham Initiative.

The Greater Chatham community covers 25 square miles on the south side of Chicago and is home to about 124,000 people and 46,000 households, according to Sims-Fears.

“The reason why GCI was created is because as a community, we have to be more competitive. We are in Chicago, the city of big shoulders and 77 neighborhoods that 2.7 million people get to chose from when they decide where they want to live,” said Sims-Fears.

With the help of Congressman Bobby Rush and the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, the Greater Chatham Initiative was created to shine a light on these four communities and learn how to best celebrate their assets, stay thriving, and create a strategy to distinguish the Greater Chatham area as an enchanting part of Chicago for potential homeowners and investors.

Money from the Greater Chatham Strong fundraiser will go towards the eight initiatives the organization operates under which all together push the community forward.

“We have eight initiatives that we are focused on and of those eight, four are not funded so we will use some of the proceeds from the Gala to help us with the four initiatives that are not funded,” said Sims-Fears.

Another upcoming event that is being organized by the Greater Chatham Initiative is Kwanza on the 9 which will feature Kwanza themed holiday displays in six big storefront windows on 79th Street during the month of December.

“We’ve all gone to what was Marshall Fields then and looked at the beautiful Christmas windows and downtown merchants also do a great job with Christmas windows so we said to our selves, “why can’t people see Christmas windows in our neighborhood?” So for the first time, we are going to have six big windows decorated on 79th street,” said Sims-Fears The Kwanza holiday displays will come just in time for the opening of the remodeled Whitney M. Young Jr. Library located at 7901 S King Dr. in the Greater Chatham area.

“The Whitney Young Library is going to open on Dec. 15th after getting it’s $12 million facelift and it is going to be one of the great new places on the 79th Street strip.

We wanted the block next to the library to look extra spiffy to match the new library,” said Sims-Fears.