Category: Noted

Melrose Park Mailman, Retiring After 60 Years, Among Longest-serving in History

Sunday, August 13, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

When Garland Gralow, 83, of Melrose Park, began working with the United States Postal Service in 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.

Sixty years and 11 presidents later, Gralow has reached the end of the 25th Avenue route he’s worked ever since joining the postal service, according to an Aug. 2 report by CBS Chicago, which covered the popular postal worker’s last days on the job before retiring.

Continue reading “Melrose Park Mailman, Retiring After 60 Years, Among Longest-serving in History”


Sun-Times’ Mary Mitchell Profiles 106-year-old ‘Regal’ Maywood Woman

Thursday, August 10, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, Susie Lewis, 106, of Maywood, almost looks too good to be true.

When Mitchell, a former Maywood resident herself, visited the Maywood home where Lewis has lived for half a century, the columnist encountered a woman whose face “is virtually untouched by the two scourges of time: wrinkles and sag” and who “has the peaceful look of a contented child.”

Continue reading “Sun-Times’ Mary Mitchell Profiles 106-year-old ‘Regal’ Maywood Woman”

Quinn Center Marks Camp’s End With Celebration | National Night Out is Aug. 1


Young participants of the Quinn Community Center’s summer enrichment camp during a July 21 end-of-camp assembly. Below, students show off their newly learned musical chops. || Michael Romain/VFP

IMG_6223Wednesday, July 26, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

Over 100 community members packed the gymnasium of the Quinn Community Center, 1845 S. 9th Ave. in Maywood, to celebrate the end of the center’s annual summer enrichment camp during a July 21 assembly.

“This year, the camp had over 150 campers, not including camp mentors, volunteers and staff,” said Wardell J. Dobbins, the founder and CEO of Gateway to Music and Arts Inc. — one of numerous nonprofits who facilitated a range of programming in the arts, music and gardening.

Quinn Summer Camp_1

A classroom in the middle of learning during a Quinn summer enrichment camp session. || Photo: Quinn Community Center 

One of the highlights of last Friday’s assembly was a musical selection by students in grades fifth through eighth.

“These students came to us with no musical experience and during the past 12 days they learned how to play percussion instruments,” Dobbins told the crowd.

Quinn Summer Camp_3

A child engaged in hands-on learning during a classroom session. || Quinn Community Center

During a brief selection, the students read sheet music while playing the written beats on buckets, trash cans and pieces of plywoods.

After them, a group of second-graders took the stage to perform … what else? The mambo, of course.

National Night Out set for Aug. 1

National Night Out

Maywood firemen clean up after a National Night Out several years ago. | File

Since 1984, communities across the United States and Canada have gathered on the first Tuesday of August, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., to recognize National Night Out Against Violence. The event, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, is designed to advance awareness about law enforcement programs and various anti-crime initiatives.

Maywood has been celebrating the event annually since 2004. This year, as with others, the event will take place on the first Tuesday of August (which is Aug. 1), from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. at Maywood Veteran’s Memorial Park, 300 Oak St. in Maywood.

Officer Pirsia Allen, the Maywood Police Department’s community policing officer, said that the event has fostered a greater sense of togetherness and unity between the police and the residents.

Entertainment includes Big Ray & Chicago’s Most Wanted Band, free food and refreshments, free t-shirts, gifts and balloons for children. For more information, contact: Officer Pirsia Allen at 708-450- 4409. VFP

6 Students Receive 209 Together Awards

Scholarship photo.jpgTuesday, July 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Ulyces Gutierrez (pictured), a recent Proviso Math and Science Academy graduate and Melrose Park resident, spent his time in high school waking up at 6 a.m. to head to school early before leaving to go straight to his job at Chipotle, where he would work until around 11 p.m. After, he’d go home, do his homework and go to sleep at around 2 a.m. Then, he’d wake up at 6 a.m to do it all over again.

“It was rinse and repeat,” he said in a recent phone interview. “My mom told me if work was too much I could just quit—it wasn’t like we were short on money. But I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to do something with my time.”

Gutierrez’s efforts have paid off in more ways than one. The 18-year-old is one of six graduates from Proviso Township High School District 209 who will each be presented with a $1,000 check during a 6:30 p.m. ceremony on Aug. 1 at the Howard H. Mohr Community Center in Forest Park. The scholarship is sponsored by the community group 209 Together and the Kiwanis Club Foundation of Forest Park.

“These talented and ambitious students have all been accepted to one or more 2- or 4-year colleges,” according to a statement released on July 20 by the scholarship committee.

The scholarship was established in 2015 as a “way to highlight the perseverance and academic excellence that is possible from graduates of Proviso East, Proviso West, and Proviso Math and Science Academy.”

Each student had to submit an essay along with general academic information in order to qualify for the scholarship. Peg Cecchi, one of the people who reviewed the applications, said she was “struck again and again by the desire and heart that these kids show.”

“They humbled me by sharing a slice of their lives and showing me that they have what it takes to be successful, not in spite of their challenges but because of their challenges, challenges that made them stronger.”

For Gutierrez, there was added incentive in overcoming the long hours and emotional drain of working nearly 40-hour weeks at Chipotle while putting in extra hours at school.

There were times when, he said, he would save up enough money to help his family with mortgage payments. But there is something much more satisfactory, he said. In the fall, when he enrolls as a freshman at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Gutierrez will be the first person in his family to attend college.

“Both of my parents emigrated from Mexico,” he said. “My mom dropped out of high school to work on a farm with my grandparents. My dad got his GED, but he never went off to college.”

Gutierrez said he now wants to be a model for his younger brother, a rising sophomore at PMSA.

“Since I’m the first one to go off to college, this is kind of a new thing for all of us,” the older Gutierrez said. “The $1,000 scholarship will be a big help.”

Members of Kiwanis Club and 209 Together praised the scholars for their sacrifices and their outsized roles in their respective communities.

“Kiwanis is proud of our award recipients as they set out to change the world for the better, one child and one community at a time,” said Gerald Lordan, the director of the Kiwanis Club Foundation of Forest Park.

“Our hope is to keep this going and each year add to the impact we have on the lives of kids form our very own communities,” said selection committee co-chair Michelle Woehrle. “We’d love to raise enough [money] to give additional support to past winners who are still in school.”

The scholarship committee started an online fundraiser to raise additional money for past winners. Those interested in giving money can visit: VFP

The 2017 209 Together award recipients

Proviso East

  • Overcoming Adversity: Destiny Tartt
  • Persistence Pays: Kiana Walker

Proviso West

  • Overcoming Adversity: Precious Tonya
  • Persistence Pays: Diana Guzman


  • Overcoming Adversity: Ulyces Gutierrez
  • Persistence Pays: Aaliyah Henderson

When Michelle Obama’s Former Hairstylist ‘Moved On Up To’ Maywood

Flowers and Obama.jpgFriday, July 21, 2017 || By Local Media Curator || @maywoodnews

Michael “Rahni” Flowers, the 30-year owner of the upscale Van Cleef Hair Studio in Chicago, recently talked to Crain’s Chicago Business about his many celebrity clients, his experiences styling perhaps the most famous client of all (former First Lady Michelle Obama) and, among other things, his “move on up” to his former hometown … Maywood.

Some tidbits from the interview:

Flowers, 62, described having a hand some significant moments in the life of the First Lady and this country. For instance, he style Obama for “wedding, the first Iowa primary, the election night celebration in Grant Park in 2008, and I styled her, her mother and both daughters during all the first inauguration events. She wanted me to move to D.C., but my partner convinced me to stay here.”

His Maywood “shout-out” came while Flowers talked about his childhood.

“I was the 10th of 13 children,” he said. “We grew up on the West Side in a low-income housing community. My dad worked in the Armour factory, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. Eventually we were able to ‘move on up’ to Maywood.”

You can read the full Crain’s interview here. Above photo credited to Van Cleef Hair Studio. VFP

F E A T U R E D  E V E N T

Afriware July 21

Pick Up the July Print Edition of Village Free Press or Read It Online

VFP July Cover.png

Thursday, July 20, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

The July print edition Village Free Press is now available at the following locations. We’ll be dropping papers off at numerous businesses throughout the week and over the weekend:

  • Maywood Public Library
  • Maywood Multipurpose Building
  • Maywood Village Hall
  • Maywood Police Station
  • Bellwood Public Library
  • Bellwood Village Hall
  • Broadview Public Library
  • Broadview Village Hall
  • Melrose Park Public Library

To read the May edition online, click here.

To support Village Free Press, click here

During Festive Sunday, Maywood Becomes Zacatecas for the Moment


Visitors to Sunday’s Zacatecano Fest turned Veterans Memorial Park into a large dance floor. | Below, Miguel Huerta, (right), a member of the Federation of United Clubs from Zacateca in Forth Worth, Texas, said he traveled 16 hours to get to Maywood. | Michael Romain/VFP

IMG_6105Tuesday, July 18, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Hundreds converged on Veterans Memorial Park in Maywood on July 16 for the annual Zacatecano Fest, a one-day event hosted by the Illinois branch of the Federation of United Clubs from Zacatecas.

The one-day fest is designed to celebrate Zacatecas, a state in Mexico. Sunday’s fest marked the third consecutive year the event has been held in Maywood.

The fest attracted people like Sarafin Gurrola Alvarado, a government official who traveled from Valparaiso, a small town in north central Zacatecas. It was his first time in Chicago.


“Chicago is incredible, it’s a very friendly  place,” Alvarado (pictured right) said.

Miguel Huerta, a member of the Federation of United Clubs in Forth Worth, Texas, said that the trip to Maywood was around 16 hours.

“When other organizations have their events, we try to be part of them so we can feel like they have our friendship,” said Huerta, adding that millions of Zacatecas natives currently reside in the United States — namely in places like Chicago, California and Texas.

Jose Estrada, who works in the area of migrant outreach in the office of the governor of Zacatecas, said that events like Sunday’s fest often serve not only to entertain but to galvanize resources and support for Mexican natives who are trying to make it in the U.S., where many have migrated for a better life.

“Usually, mayors from different municipalities are here and they talk about the projects they want to do together over there,” he said. “The other day, we had this kind of event in California and there were 25 mayors there. The migrant’s office takes care of people. We have to be close to the community because there are lots of things going on.”


Maywood officials take photos with visitors for Zacatecano Fest on July 16. | Michael Romain/VFP

Herb Porter, a Hanover Park trustee, had come to the Maywood fest, in part, to see his friend, Federation member Arnulfo Flores. Hanover Park shares sister city status with Zacatecas City, the largest city and capital in the state of Zacatecas.

Numerous government officials at Sunday’s fest said that the sister city designation is more than symbolic and sometimes translates into resource-sharing.

Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who was on hand at Sunday’s fest, said that the sister city designation is “something to think about.”


Zacatecas pageant winners Nelly Rodriguez-Jauregui, Mari Carmen Galvez and Yesenia Ponce Ornelas. | Michael Romain/VFP

Flores said that, in addition to resource-sharing between municipalities, the Federation also doles out scholarships to deserving students and lends other forms of support to members of what is a growing immigrant community that is generations deep.

Pageant winner Nelly Rodriguez-Jauregui, who was in Maywood from northern California, said her parents are from Zacatecas.


Zacatecano Fest visitors Jenny Garcia, Erica Banuelos and Gloria Banuelos. | Michael Romain/VFP

She and two other young women who are either from, or have parents from, Zacatecas, took top prizes in a national competition that tests contestant’s knowledge, personality and passion for the Mexican state.

“We’re here to represent our parents and grandparents,” Rodriguez-Jauregui said. VFP

F E A T U R E D  E V E N TBusiness reception Detailed Flyer_July