Are you a proud West Sider? With calls for the National Guard to come into our community, one can easily be jaded over living on this side of town. I do not want to diminish the problems that we have, but at the same time someone does need to focus on what is good about living here.

One of the best things about living on the West Side is an organization that has always been at the forefront regarding this side of town: Westside Branch NAACP. I recently rejoined the organization when chastised by President Karl Brinson for having let my membership lapse. The organization has moved and is now located at 5820 W. Chicago Ave. in the Sankofa Cultural Center.

If you want to be part of an organization that is not political or religious but is focused on doing good, then this is the organization to join. The meetings are held on the first Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. and it is not unusual to have at least 30 members present. Every year our branch holds its annual Freedom Fund Banquet. This year it will be held on Saturday May 15, at the Best Western Hotel, 4400 Frontage Rd. in Hillside beginning at 6:30 p.m. The cost of the ticket is $50 and can be purchased by calling 773.261.5890. If you are a business owner, then please buy an ad showing your support for an organization that is always out front in supporting this side of town.

And speaking of this side of town, I want everyone to support four restaurants that I visited in the past couple of weeks that may not be on your normal dining radar. The first is J&W Jamaican Jerk at 5148 W. Madison St. From the chicken & waffles for breakfast to the jerk chicken and ribs, everything was fresh, hot, and very tasty. I had the jerk chicken and it was smoky and jerked just right. The staff is helpful and friendly and whether you take out or eat in, this restaurant deserves the support of everyone.

I also had the opportunity to visit Ms. Lucille’s Soul Food Kitchen at 108 W. Madison in Oak Park. The fried pork chops were scrumptious, the yams were laced with butter and vanilla, and it was refreshing to see succotash loaded with okra on the menu. I went with one of my girlfriends and she and I both had to drag ourselves out of the restaurant from having eaten so much.

Now, the next restaurant I must recommend may come as a surprise to some. I had left the radio station around midnight on Sunday and driving home my stomach began to growl. I hadn’t had anything to eat since that morning and I was starving. As I drove past Chicago Avenue and Kedzie, the sign in the Popeye’s Chicken, 3202 W. Chicago Ave., said their drive thru was open. Now, at 12:30 a.m. the choices for what to eat on this side of town are few and far between. So I made my purchase and took the food home, not knowing what to expect. I want to tell you that when I opened the bag, everything inside was fresh and hot. And for the first time in years, I had a chicken breast that was moist and perfectly cooked. The food was so good that I called the manager the next day and shocked her with a compliment and not a complaint. I even went on the Internet and sent a form to their main headquarters about how good that chicken was.

Lastly, for over a year I have seen the Mississippi Hot Tamale cart on the corner of Laramie and Iowa. I never knew black folks made tamales, but I got a real history lesson when I went on the Internet. Whatever the origins, I finally stopped and sampled those tamales. They are inexpensive, tasty, and very juicy since they are boiled and not steamed.

So, when you come to the NAACP banquet, let me know which restaurants you tried and give me and the restaurants in question your reviews.