A Grinch stole computers from Pilsen arts program; help with a Christmas donation


Photo from Pros Arts Studio of former computer lab.

A Grinch stole 14 computers from a community arts program in the Pilsen neighborhood last weekend.

Now Pros Arts Studios,  a nonprofit that has helped thousands of youth and families in Chicago since 1978, is raising funds so they can purchase new equipment and software.

"There is so much demand for our programs," Giselle Mercier, the executive director of Pros Arts Studio told me in an interview. "We have helped four generations of families and now we're reaching their great grandkids."


Pros Arts Studio Day of the Dead procession, fall 2010
Photo by Mark Butkus

One of their best known programs is the kids circus. I happened to run across the youth in that program during a Day of the Dead parade they held in Pilsen this fall.

The youth dressed in black and white with skeleton faces balanced as the moved on a type of circus wheel.

This is an annual event, and I first wrote about Pros Arts in 1997 when I was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. I know that their arts programs make a difference in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Pilsen.

They also offer many other programs, including in clay art, graphic art and street art.

The stolen computers - nine Mac Pros and five desktops - were used for multimedia courses. They also used the laptops for a program to train senior citizens how to send email and use the Internet.

The computer classes for seniors and youth will have to be put on hold for now.

"We normally work with the kids over winter break," Mercier said. "But we had to tell them we don't have the computers."

The stolen equipment was worth about $25,000, and Mercier estimates that the insurance will cover less than half of that. So they are asking kind souls to make a donation to the organization using Paypal on their website. So far they have raised more than $2,500 but that is not enough to rebuild the computer lab that they had at Dvorak Park.

Police are investigating the burglary.

Mercier is hopeful.

"We will show that terrible Grinch that we are bigger than him. We will find a way to rebuild the labs," Mercier said.

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