My turn

Local organizations for the needy seek donations

2013-10-17T00:00:00Z Local organizations for the needy seek donationsGeorge Grenchik Times Columnist
October 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I met up recently with some old friends from my earliest teaching days at St. Victor School in Calumet City. Tom Pietrasek, Sue Schmakel, Sister Therese Del Genio, and I taught together for several years in the early to mid 1970s.

Tom and Sue showed me that not all romances in the junior high are among the kids. Tom and Sue married soon after they had left St. Victor and have remained so for a while now (Sue may read this, so I’ll leave the exact number to your speculation).

Sister Therese left after a few years of teaching at St. Victor, but she returned at the request of the Rev. Leo Mahon not to teach again, but to do ministry work.

And minister she did. She was at the forefront of the formation of an outreach team to counsel and help the addicted. Sister Therese, with others of the good sisters of Notre Dame de Nemur, started Victor Care, an organization which worked mightily to put into action the Gospel mandated to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give shelter to the homeless.

Victor Care exists today as CCR — Calumet City Resources. And the work remains the same: to help those in need. And some of Victor Care also remains at St. Victor to offer assistance to those in need at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and before the start of the school year.

Sister Therese was in town last Sunday for the 20th anniversary of Southwest Chicago PADS which she founded in 1993. PADS stands for Public Action to Deliver Shelter. PADS provides emergency shelter, food, clothing and referrals for people who are homeless. This is done while respecting the value and dignity and uniqueness of the people being served. PADS also tries to educate the wider population of the plight of the homeless and near homeless in our midst.

Since 2002 Southwest Chicago PADS has been permanently located on 71st Street in Chicago across from Marquette Park and very near to Holy Cross Hospital where Sue Schmakel (now Mrs. Tom Pietrasek) worked and now teaches as an X-ray tech. Old acquaintances were renewed.

Last Sunday’s meeting of the four of us, a fundraising for PADS, was the second time we had gotten together to help Sister Therese fund this most worthy cause. PADS receives no government funding (which these days is a blessing I guess). It depends on private contributions.

You can help. Southwest Chicago PADS needs contributions and volunteers. If you’re of a mind to help, you can contact the organization at (773) 737-7070 or online at

And here in Calumet City, CCR accepts donations of in season clothing, food, and smaller household goods which are distributed to Calumet City residents in need. Monetary donations are always welcome. They are at the corner of 155th Place and Wentworth Avenue. Their number is (708) 891-9330. CCR is open from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


The first, promised to be annual, Calumet Memorial Park District Mini-Golf outing was a huge success. As many as 500 contestants ponied up $5 to compete on the exquisite mini golf course in Memorial Park. Each of the nine holes had multiple corporate and individual sponsors.

And the winner? The park district’s Needy Family Fund. The fund has been around for decades having begun under former park superintendent Sandy Wartman. The fund helps kids and families identified by local school social workers as needing some help. The fund takes care of a lot of these folks, especially at Christmas time. The mini golf tournament’s success has led to the thought of offering some scholarships to deserving kids who might need a hand.

Congrats to Director of Operations Eric Schneider who was the impetus behind this event.

Thanks for reading.

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