The Westside Health Authority’s annual international dinner was held at LaFollete Park Community Center, 1313 N. Laramie, last Saturday. Ninety-year-old Mary Alice Henry, a West Side community leader who created this tradition 13 years ago would undoubtedly be proud. Henry advocated for social justice and better health care access, and she gathered support from caring citizens to pay tribute to community leaders. She conceived of an event that would be fun for the entire family-an international dinner. Families and agencies were encouraged to bring a potluck meal from any ethnic background, while dressing in the cultural style of their meal.

LaFollette’s auditorium was standing room only for young and old alike who sampled the cuisine of Mexico, Italy, the Carribean and South America, plus African-American soul food.

Master of Ceremony Donnell Lighthall made everyone feel welcome. Entertainment was provided by the EBV (Every Block a Village) Dance Troupe, under the leadership of Terrayne Ellis, praise dancer. Yvonne Cobb’s performance was a highlight, resembling a swan flowing across the stage. Three members of Congo Theatre and the EBV Youth read their poems as a vocalist sang the words.

The Health Promotions division, featuring women who had lost between 15 and 60 pounds, put on a fashion show. All the women were happy to show off their new figures, and the outfits ranged from suits to evening gowns.

Darlyn Gaston and Jacqueline Reed led the “Vision In Action Awards” presentation. Recipients were Lucretia Bonner, Carolyn Bryant, Dorothy Collins, Jannell Dennison, Willie Ferba, Queen Forrest, Lavirgia Gray, Willa Gregg, Dorothy Henderson, Florene Holmes, Flora Howard, Orlean Huntley, Marguerita Jones, Glenn Lewis, Patricia Perkins, Reuben Robinson and Aliyahoo B. Yisrael.

WHA President/CEO Jacqueline Reed said, “It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the 8th Annual International Dinner. Westside Health Authority and Every Block a Village Citizen Leaders hosted this inspired event to honor community residents and leaders for their service in the Austin Community. This year’s Vision In Action Award Honorees were nominated by community residents. They were selected based on their steadfast service. Their selfless commitment to the community exemplify the best in each of us. They represent countless people in the neighborhoods who work tirelessly every day to help make the community better. We salute everyone who is committed to working to enhance our neighborhoods. May God continue to bless them, their families and their work.”

Westside Health Authority’s mission is “To use the capacity of local people to improve the health and well-being of West Side residents.”

Westside Health Authority is located at 5417 W. Division St., Chicago 60651. Phone: 773/378-1878. Fax: 773/786-2752.