As the summer has wound down, many back-to-school events have taken place on the West Side. One of the more prominent happened on Aug. 25, when the Galewood Park Advisory Council, along with other organizations, hosted the first-ever Taste of Galewood Back 2 School Party at Galewood Park, 5729 W. Bloomingdale Ave. 

While the name “Taste of Galewood” suggested a variety of food vendors, Richard Davis, the Advisory Council’s president, said that the event was more focused on giving residents a taste of resources available in the neighborhood. The theme for the event, he added, was unity. 

“That’s the theme — one love, one people,” Davis said. “That’s the community. We’re in it together.”

The event was organized in partnership with Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), state Rep. Camille Lily (78th), Oak Street Health, Galewood’s Grace and Peace Church, and the 25th Police District. 

Throughout the day, officers were out and about, talking with community residents and answering questions. The police district’s Domestic Violence Subcommittee set up a table, where they shared information about domestic violence and sexual assault. 

As sub-committee member Donna Shula explained, they wanted to encourage everyone to do their part to help eliminate domestic violence and sex assault. 

“We need everybody involved to help eliminate [these problems], because child abuse, domestic violence and animal abuse are all interrelated, along with mental health issues,” she said.

The sub-committee meets every first Wednesday of the month at the 25th District police station’s community room, and Shula said that the public is welcome to attend.

Chicago Park District was on hand to promote the programs in Galewood Park and throughout Chicago in general, while North Austin branch library promoted its own programs and services.

Oak Street Health was on hand to let seniors know about their primary care services. If anyone needed an appointment, Gerardo Perez Lopez, one of the organization’s outreach associates, could sign them up on the spot. 

“At Oak Street, we believe that the major purpose of Medicare providers is to prevent trips to urgent care,” he said. “With more visits, our patience reduce the risk of hospitalization by 40 percent.”

Zipporah Springfield, who said she grew in the community, runs Z Got Bags. She sells bags, sunglasses and accessories through social media, and she couldn’t pass up a chance to take part in the Taste of Galewood. 

“I love the community, so anything to support the community and talk people into good fashion, is good,” Springfield said.

Devoria Williams, a CPR instructor from Galewood, works with the American Heart Association and Mt. Sinai Hospital while also offering private CPR instruction on her own. During the Taste of Galewood, she taught residents how to do hands-only CPR. 

Williams explained that while she attended many community events, she never attended one in her home neighborhood. And when she heard about the Taste of Galewood during Congressman Danny Davis’s event, she couldn’t pass it up.

“I want to do something to give back,” she said.

A Sbarro New York style pizza chain franchise, which is currently in the process of opening up a location at 5554 W. Fullerton Ave., provided free pizza slices. The location is currently hiring, information it actively shared during the Taste of Galewood.

Davis said that he was impressed with how willing everybody was to take part in the Taste of Galewood.

“It’s amazing how our [elected officials] and our vendors and our sponsors just came out,” he said. “There was no begging.”

The Taste of Galewood also had a bounce castle and a dunk tank.  Galewood Park Supervisor Monique Young-Johnson did a Zubma dance showcase, and the park advisory council did a backpack giveaway at the end of the event.

Davis said that the council plans to put on another Taste of Galewood next year.

“We work with anybody and we’re going to make [Galewood Park] a successful park,” he said.  


Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...