We’ve now spent two weeks exploring and enjoying the community that we are partnered with for SSP. This week, members are highlighting some of their favorite people, places, and things that make up the South Chicago neighborhood.



Ms. Olivia Hernandez

A person that is a great asset to the community is Ms. Olivia Hernandez, the Executive Director of Centro Comunitario Juan Diego. Ms. Hernandez helped to co-found the organization with a group of concerned citizens (and new immigrants from Mexico) in the 1980s in the South Chicago neighborhood. Under her leadership, their programming has expanded to touch on multiple parts of the community, concerning issues of health education, food insecurity, and government assistance. She also has a green thumb and maintains & spearheads the crops coming from their community gardens!



A place I believe to be the best asset to the community is Bessemer Park. It’s located in front of Bowen High School and Baker College Prep. Bessemer park is full of life on all summer days due to the space for sports, recreational center, and park. This park is a place in which the youth can come for a fun and safe space. I believe its a great place where people can come to spend time doing productive things. Popular activities here include,but not limited to, Basketball/Football games, Picnics, BBQs, and meetings. This space also offers a large garden where beautiful plant life resides and a long track great for dog walking.




I believe that the best asset for the community is the Chicago Public Library. When I go to the library, I’m pleased to see so many kids and people in there reading. The library is right across the street from the YMCA as well. There are so many nice people there too that are eager to help you with finding books. There are also people there to help read to the child who are at the library.


I believe that one of the best assets for South Chicago is all of the great community gardens. Not only do they serve to beautify the neighborhood, but also they provide nutritious, fresh food for the people that run them. At Centro Communitario Juan Diego, they have two community gardens and also run a food pantry. We were able to help weed the garden and stock the food pantry this week, and I look forward to looking with the again soon!