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CHICAGO – On Saturday, State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) attended a celebration in remembrance of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, born one hundred years ago this month, and presented a resolution she sponsored declaring February 2013 “Thirteenth Amendment Ratification Month.” John Paul Jones, one of Collins’ constituents and president of the Sustainable Englewood Initiatives, had asked her to find a way to publicly acknowledge Illinois’ status as the first state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the United States and formally freed all slaves still in bondage in 1865.

“Illinois’ prompt ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment is something we can all be proud of today, nearly 150 years later,” Collins said. “I sponsored this resolution because it’s important for our children to know about the significance of this moment in history – the beginning of a road that has stretched from Jim Crow to Brown v. Board to Selma to our nation’s first Black president and beyond. This part of our journey started with the legal, constitutional right to be free.”

The Illinois General Assembly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment on February 1, 1865, mere hours after the U.S. House of Representatives approved it. Governor Richard J. Oglesby informed the legislature of the amendment’s passage and urged immediate ratification on the grounds that outlawing slavery was both “humane” and “just.” Senate Resolution 65 also acknowledges this year as the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in areas occupied by the Union Army.

“Moviegoers who saw the film ‘Lincoln’ last year learned about the great political struggle to secure congressional approval of the Thirteenth Amendment,” Collins said. “The other part of the story is its ratification by the states and the fact that Lincoln’s home state of Illinois led the way.”

The Rosa Parks celebration took place at Gifts from God Ministries Church on West 74th Street. Organizers presented awards to three outstanding women in the community, and attendees enjoyed refreshments and an African bazaar.

PHOTO: from left to right, Sen. Collins stands with award recipients Evelyn Johnson, Josephine Robinson and Pamela Dominguez and Pastor St. John Chisum and Co-Pastor Gay Chisom of the Gifts of God Ministries Church, which hosted Saturday’s Rosa Parks celebration.

Measure also funds foreclosure counseling for 18,000 households

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) thanked housing advocates, financial institutions and the Quinn administration for working together on a new strategy to address the glut of abandoned residential properties clogging the court system. The governor signed Senate Bill 16 today at a ceremony also attended by homeowners able to stay in their homes after receiving foreclosure counseling.

“Restoring stability to the housing market is critical to leading the broader economy out of recession. Our strategy grapples with the continuing foreclosure crisis on two levels: first, by clearing out the court logjam of foreclosures on truly abandoned properties; and second, by empowering communities to rehabilitate unsightly and dangerous vacant houses and lots,” said Collins, the measure’s sponsor. “It will also fund foreclosure counseling, a proven method of keeping people in their homes.”

This legislation creates a fast-track process for foreclosures when the property in question has been abandoned, shortening the total time from more than 500 days to approximately 100 days in such cases. It safeguards the rights of homeowners and legitimate occupants by establishing notification requirements and a strict definition of abandoned property. The law also increases the foreclosure filing fee. The proceeds will go to the Foreclosure Prevention Program Fund for homeowner counseling grants — funding counseling for an additional 18,000 households — and the Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Fund, which will award a projected $28 million in grants to counties and municipalities to maintain, renovate or demolish abandoned properties.

“I am so glad I learned about homeowner counseling when I did,” said Mary Edmonds, a homeowner who obtained help from a foreclosure prevention grant recipient and spoke at the bill signing. “I had been in my home for 20 years when I lost my job and my mother became ill and passed away. With unemployment benefits running out, my only source of income was from a seasonal tax preparation job. By working with Neighborhood Housing Services, I was able to receive a reinstatement and monthly mortgage payment assistance.”

“Neither homeowners nor communities nor lenders benefit from a drawn-out foreclosure crisis that keeps the market sluggish and neighborhoods riddled with abandoned homes,” Collins said. “We know what works – counseling and community empowerment – and we’re emphasizing those tactics in our overall strategy.”

PHOTO: From left to right, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, Adam Gross with Business & Professional People for the Public Interest, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, State Senator Jacqueline Collins, State Senator John Mulroe along with other activists.

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SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Senate adopted a resolution, sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th), declaring today National African-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is Illinois’ twelfth annual observance of the day.

“It’s important each year to educate Illinoisans about HIV/AIDS and break down stereotypes surrounding this disease,” Collins said. “I’m presenting this resolution to send three messages. First, AIDS doesn’t respect boundaries of race or sexual orientation. Second, black women and men are disproportionately diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. And third, when you know your status and have treatment options you can live life to the fullest, even with HIV.”

In 2007, Collins sponsored legislation creating the Quality of Life grant program funded by the Red Ribbon Cash scratch-off lottery game. She persuaded her colleagues to extend it last year until 2018. Quality of Life grants are awarded to organizations that promote awareness of HIV/AIDS and provide services to HIV-positive individuals. The program reserves half its funding for community-based groups with small budgets, and it spreads resources throughout the state and to a variety of at-risk groups.

Facts about African-Americans and HIV/AIDS in Illinois (from Senate Resolution 48):

     - 35,000 Illinoisans live with HIV.

     - Of new diagnoses, 51 percent are African-Americans.

     - In Chicago, black gay men under 30 have an infection rate three times that of their white counterparts.

     - More than two-thirds of women diagnosed with HIV in the United States are black.

     - HIV/AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death among African-American men ages 25 to 44 and the third leading cause of death among African-American women in the same age range.

SPRINGFIELD, IL – St. Bernard Hospital recognized Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) Friday at its annual service remembering the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The hospital presented Sen. Collins with its 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King’s Humanitarian Service Award for her dedication to improving quality of life for individuals and families in the communities St. Bernard serves.

“It is an honor to accept this award, named for a leader whose legacy inspires me every day,” Sen. Collins said. “As we pause together to celebrate Dr. King’s life, let us rededicate ourselves to the struggle for justice and human dignity in these neighborhoods and throughout our city and state.”

Since her first election to the Illinois Senate in 2002, Sen. Collins has focused on several areas of particular interest to Englewood and other neighborhoods on the South Side, including housing issues, community revitalization and economic development, violence prevention, access to quality health care, access to fresh food and fairness in financial transactions. Like Sen. Collins, St. Bernard Hospital understands the relationship between economic and physical health. In 2004, the hospital and its partners built Bernard Place, an affordable housing development that has brought 70 new families to Englewood. Charles A. Holland, Jr., now President and CEO of St. Bernard, directed the project.

“For us to believe, act and dream together for the good of families and communities is a privilege and even a sacred duty,” Sen. Collins said. “I’m humbled that you’ve chosen to recognize my efforts, and I salute yours.”

PHOTO: (From left to right)Sen  Collins Ald Cochran flanked by STBH Officers Danny Rollins, Vice President for Ancillary and Support Services; Charles Holland, President and CEO; 20th Ward Alderman Willie B. Cochran; Sen. Collins; Henry Wiggins, M.D., Chief Radiologist; Ronald Campbell, Vice President for Case Management and Coordination of Care and Roland Abellera, Chief Quality Officer

UPDATE: For more information on this story, please see this story from DNAInfo.com Chicago.

Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607

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