Eyes on Austin hosted its annual awards banquet this past Sunday at Grandma Sally’s Restaurant, 5225 W. Madison.

Located at 5519 West North Ave., Eyes on Austin is one of Austin’s leading community service organizations. On Sunday, June 3, they held their awards banquet to honor community residents at Grandma Sally’s, a recently opened business in the community.

This year, the organization honored the following individuals for their leadership and service to the community:

Margaret Garner, president of Broadway Consolidated Co.; Rev. Dwight Gunn, pastor of Heritage International Christian Church; Nzingha Amma Nommo, owner of Afriware Bookstore in Oak Park; Gwen Harris, owner of It Takes A Village Child Care, Inc.; and Katie Artzer, executive director of United Neighbors In Action and The Illinois Black Caucus.

Master of Ceremonies for the evening was EOA’s James Hammonds, who also contributes columns occasionally to the Austin Weekly News. Hammonds, along with EOA’s Sonny Jackson, greeted guests and made sure everyone was served dinners provided by Grandma Sally’s.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and a former mayoral candidate this spring.

Brown first acknowledged all of the honorees and sponsors, and then noted the work EOA has done in the community over the years.

“I appreciate all that you do,” said Brown to the audience of residents and EOA workers. “In order to truly meet the needs of a community, I know that it is very important that we all help you; help you do what you do. We must commit ourselves and believe that we all are a just society…that we provide the best to others.

“The Eyes on Austin organization through its programs have made a difference in the lives of many area citizens and I encourage everyone here to support this organizations,” Brown added. “We have to realize that we all have a responsibility to each other. And we have to stop being so selfish when it comes to helping one another, because as we help one another we help ourselves. I want to thank you all for having the heart that you do. Great men and women don’t come along that often and I consider you all great men and women.”

Eyes on Austin Executive Director Jean Jackson gave a special thanks to the organization’s sponsors: The Austin Weekly News, Eli Cheesecake, Coca Cola Company, State Sen. Don Harmon (39th), State Rep. Deborah Graham (78th) and Roby Properties.

Under the leadership of Jackson and her staff and volunteers, Eyes On Austin has continued to provide numerous services to the Austin community.

Among the programs it operates is a job center where an estimated 15,000 residents have been serviced in the past three years.

Eyes on Austin is a tax exempt, non-profit corporation whose mission “is to improve the quality of life for all Austin residents. Eyes on Austin provides programs and services that contribute to the stability and longevity of the residents and businesses in Austin.”

Those services include a job center, handyman program, job training program, life skills development program, as well as programs for ex-offenders, food handling and management, energy and its Labor of Love housing rehab initiative.

EOA was founded by Sonny and Jean Jackson – their mission continues on.

Eye on Austin staff

Jean Jackson, executive director
Myra Stennis, chief finance officer
James Hammonds, program director
Diane Baker, case manager
Tara Montley, job developer (Youth)
Edith Brown, job developer
Hakeem Ward, GED instructor
Rev. Willie Southworth handyman program coordinator
Sheila Hubbard business management services program coordinator

For more information on Eyes on Austin call: 773/ 479-1569