Meet Your Neighbor: North Lawndale Employment Network

Writing this blog brings several great things: awareness of many Chicago organizations doing great work; spotlighting key issues, and getting to write two vastly different phrases in my writing.

Like “North Lawndale Employment Network” and “tea”.  Next Friday, that pairing won’t sound so strange. (And thanks to North Lawndale Employment Network for giving us the heads-up)

Like many other Chicago neighborhoods, North Lawndale was an industrial center that drove economic growth. Now, with many unemployed and underemployed residents, the neighborhood faces challenges which the North Lawndale Employment Network faces on a daily basis.  Programs that cover a diverse range of interests – from financial literacy to building bridges between ex-offenders and police.  North Lawndale Employment Network even runs its own social enterprise called Sweet Beginnings LLC (which produces beelove-branded products), providing people much-needed job training and skills while crafting unique products that are sold throughout the city.

Next Friday, February 19th, North Lawndale Employment Network will sponsor its 11th Annual Sweet Beginnings Tea event at the Imperial Ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel, located at 200 North Columbus Drive in Chicago. Focusing on “creating a community that works”, the event will be emceed by Chicago news veteran Robin Robinson.

One of the highlights will be presenting Bob Mariano, President, CEO and Chairman of Roundy’s, with the Voice of the Voiceless Award. Mr. Mariano has demonstrated strong support of Sweet Beginnings LLC.  Not only can you find its  products at Mariano’s, but he has also worked to provide employment opportunities and second chances for returning citizens.

The February 19th event will also highlight organizations that win NLEN’s Creating A Community That Works Award, which includes

  • Retired Chicago Police Department First Deputy Alfonza Wysinger and interim Superintendent John Escalante accepting, for their advocacy of NLEN’s Building Bridges, Building Connections program, which was designed to address the tensions between police and community, to foster understanding and to change the way that African American citizens and police engage with each other.
  • Allstate SVP of Corporate Relations Victoria Dinges, who is accepting the award on Allstate’s behalf. Allstate has been active in driving positive chance through youth empowerment programs, as well as programs that promote safety and prevent domestic violence.  By supporting these and other NLEN programs like U-Turn Permitted Program, Allstate not only plays a direct role in community building…but also strengthens its organizational core.
  • Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, for his dynamic leadership and unwavering commitment to the citizens he serve, as well as allowing Sweet Beginnings to expand its beehives into the Cook County Forest Preserve.

Registration for the event begins at 2:30 pm, and the event lasts from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. For more details and to register, visit

The reason we call this segment “Meet Your Neighbor” is that we like to highlight some of the great work going on in the city. Next week, at least, you’ll get to meet your neighbor in person….and get to know North Lawndale Employment Network much better.

Know any other great organizations that should be highlighted? Please let us know in the comments section below or drop a note via our Facebook page. You can receive updates via e-mail (instructions below), or contact me personally via the About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment