Local activist and candidate for 26th Ward Alderman Theresa Siaw is extremely passionate about both philanthropy and combating violence in Chicago. If you're a loyal reader of the Patriotic Dissenter on the Chicago Now network, then you are obviously well aware of how strongly committed we are to combatting gun violence in our communities.
Thus, when the opportunity arose to have an exclusive conversation with Siaw, we were eager to hear and then help spread her message. The Theresa Siaw Foundation and Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. (go here for an exclusive with him) hosted a meet and greet and collected items for Cradles to Crayons at Homiey in Humboldt Park this past Friday night.
Siaw, who has given to Toys for Tots and hands out 1,000 turkeys every Thanksgiving, is up against incumbent Alderman Roberto Maldonado, as well as David Herrera, Angee Gonzalez and Mirko "Limo Mike Z." Zaplatic Jr. in race for 26th ward Alderman. The election is on Feb 26th.
Siaw hosted an event that embodied the spirit of holiday giving, and provided an opportunity for children to meet one of their athletic heroes.
"There's different people from different backgrounds who came to the event and it just shows you that we can stand together and be united in one type of way and sports is one type of way to do that."
Siaw's cousin was a basketball player who overcame an upbringing in an area riddled with violence, and his story provides an inspiration to the kids growing up on the mean streets today.
"I always try to tell the kids, they became famous, and they were probably in the same position your were in life, so there is some hope to get out of the neighborhood, or find a way through life," Siaw said.
"It's a huge thing in our community and we always try to tell kids- don't waste your life; make the right choices."
"The easiest way out is to go into a gang or something like that, and seeing somebody life Carl Edwards or Bobby Portis, it can always give that encouragement that I can be that person one day, and they can be that person."
Siaw recently donated $35,000 to Roberto Clemente high school and led an anti-violence awareness program for 380 local kids. Siaw said she received close to 100 hundred letters last week from kids who participated in the program.
"The letters said thank you so much. I was able to get off the streets and find something constructive to do," she said.
"And that just touches my heart because that could have been somebody else's kid who could have been killed (by gun violence on the streets)."
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the "Let's Get Weird, Sports" podcast on SB Nation.
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