Thursday, January 31, 2013

Francisco Lopez, Chef Paco

Chef Paco, Francisco Lopez - owner and chef at New Rebozo, Oak Parker

Described as
"eccentric, fun, enthusiastic about food and the most welcoming person you will ever come to meet"
the hug you get walking in the door is like a Rebozo (Mexican shawl) being placed around you. In business for over 20 years in Oak Park Paco, New Rebozo if full of personality.

Everyone that has been to New Rebozo smiles when it is mentioned followed by "OH MY GOD", if you are wondering why go check the place out. Paco definitely is one of the people who gives our little town it's spirit.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lynda Schueler

Lynda Schueler - Executive Director of West Suburban PADS - Oak Parker

The first non-profit I did pro-bono work for after moving to Oak Park was West Suburban PADS, and the first person I connected with there was Lynda. I've been in OP almost 7 years and it remains my favorite local NFP.

Today is unusually warm for January but in a few days we will return to well below freezing temperatures and I will pass local homeless people on the streets, in the library or a coffee shop as I go do my daily chores, and every time I see one of these people I will wonder about their story, how they got to this stage and will the next stage be towards a return to a more 'regular' life, will they find a home where can be comfortable. Then I think of PADS and the work they do to help people get back on their feet. They have the nightly shelter for people to sleep and get a decent meal, but they do so much more. Over the years I've learned about their Employment Readiness and Interim Housing programs, their 34 Transitional Housing units designed for the working homeless and families, their 13 units of permanent Supportive Housing for individuals who were homeless and have a disabling condition, and a Homeless Prevention program that gives assistance for individuals and families who are at imminent risk of losing their housing.

Lynda has worked with PADS for 20 years, with West Suburban PADS for 14 and still loves the job and the challenge of doing more; always working on something that will help people work at providing themselves with a better life.

In Oak Park since about '94 I think she is an Oak Parker. I met with Lynda at her home where she also has the position/job/love of being a mother to two children. I being a mother also to two children I greatly admire other mothers who have full time positions, especially when that job is about bettering the world for all our children.

West Suburban PADS 15th annual Have-a-Heart Gala will take place on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at a brand-new venue, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Ballroom! The evening begins with cocktails and a lively silent auction at 6:00pm, dinner and program at 7:30pm, wrapping up with live music by the Velvet Jimis and dancing until 10:30pm. Why not get your tickets now or join E M Photography as a sponsor.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Frank Lipo

Frank Lipo - Oak Park Historical Society - Oak Parker

Photographed above in the Tarzan exhibit in Pleasant Home (did you know author Edgar Rice Burroughs lived for many years in OP) Frank has led the Historical Society for more than 15 years. He has planned exhibits, assisted researchers, coordinated public programs, and worked with volunteers and staff to keep the society active.

In the OP community he also serviced for six years as a member of the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission. In 2009, Frank was co-author of Suburban Promised Land: The Emerging Black Community in Oak Park, Illinois 1880-1980. In 2006, he was named a recipient of the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award by the Illinois Humanities Council.

The next big move for The Historical Society is the renovation of the old firehouse on Lake St. The state just announced a $125,000 grant that will fund a new HVAC and fire protection system to help update the oldest public building in Oak Park, where at some point will be the new home to the Historical Society where Frank will keep us up to date on our local past.

Hey! maybe some of these portraits might end up there one day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stephanie Clemens

Stephanie Clemens - Momenta Dance and The Academy of Movement and Music

Stephanie Clemens started The Academy of Movement and Music in her Oak Park livingroom in 1971. Truely building a small business today the Academy houses an active preschool, Academy A.R.T.S., a large dance program, a music department, MOMENTA, The Doris Humphrey Society, The Doris Humphrey Memorial Theatre and the Tidmarsh Arts Foundation. There are currently more than 1,000 students taking courses there.

There are generations of Oak Parkers who have had the opportunity to experience and learn dance due to her ongoing work and so I wanted to include her in my portrait project. She spends her time at the Academy teaching in the dance division and is a Co-Director of MOMENTA.

With both parents working artist Stephanie grew up surrounded by art and artists. She studied dance at Juilliard and took a B.A. in Physical Anthropology at U.C.L.A. eventually settling in Oak Park.