Tag: Bonnie Stegall

As One Miracle on St. Charles Rd. Ends, Another May Be in the Works

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Rev. DeAndre Patterson, pastor of Miracle Revival Cathedral in Maywood, with parishioners and organizers of an annual resource fair and parade the church hosts. The event’s primary planner, church member Bonnie Stegall (pictured below with her daughter and granddaughter), said this year’s event may be the last one she organizes. The church’s plans for the future, however, are only just heating up, say its founder. 

Bonnie stegall .jpgWednesday, August 24, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 8:58 p.m.

For the last 11 years, Bonnie Stegall, 73, has organized an annual homeless awareness fair and parade on the grounds of the Miracle Revival Cathedral, 2010 S. St. Charles Rd. in Maywood, the church she attends regularly.

Last Saturday, dozens of people lined up to receive produce donated by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and hundreds more received free drinks and cooked food, book bags stuffed with supplies, health screenings and information from numerous vendors.

It’s a family affair. Stegall’s children, grandchildren and fellow church members typically pitch in. And she gets a ton of help from Dr. Greg Gaither, who co-organizes the annual event.

“I come every year,” said Stegall’s granddaughter Darry Cameron, who brought her daughter Alani to the event. “I think it’s inspiring that she’s trying to help people in the community.”

But even all that support hasn’t been able to keep at bay the inevitable. Time catches up to even the most dedicated.

“She’s getting older and it takes a lot to do this every year,” said Tiffany Burns, Stegall’s daughter, as she bagged heads of corn in the church’s first-floor foyer.

“We wanted last year to be her last (event) since it was the 10th year, which we thought would be nice, but she wanted to have another one,” she said. “She starts planning at the beginning of the year, making phone call after phone call and putting everything together. It take s a whole lot, but she just keeps on.”

In addition to numerous vendors, the event also typically attracts popular community acts like the South Shore Drill Team, the Proviso East and Proviso West marching bands, among others.

This year’s annual event, Stegall conceded, may, indeed, have been her last. Her age, she said, is creeping up on her. But for the church in which her original idea for the event was hatched, her last resource fair is just prologue to even more positivity to come.

Stegall said she first stumbled on the idea to plan the annual resource fair and parade after a series of tragic encounters on her way to church one Sunday.

“I saw this homeless lady sitting on the bench at 25th and St. Charles and she was full of feces,” said Stegall in an interview last month. “She was maybe in her late 40s, early 50s. She looked like she had lost her mind and it didn’t appear that anyone was looking after her.”

That same morning, Stegall said, she encountered a little girl who appeared to be 5 years old walking listlessly into a barbershop and a teenager who appeared to be a prostitute. Emboldened by those sightings, Stegall charged into the office of the church’s pastor at the time and asked him to help her do something about what she’d just witnessed.

“I went into the Bishop’s office and told him our people need help,” Stegall said.

The pastor, Bishop Willie J. Chambliss, didn’t need much convincing. Chambliss, members say, founded the church nearly 50 years ago on just the kind of empathy and commitment Stegall exhibited.

“When Bishop started the church over 47 years ago down the street, his mission and his drive was always for the community,” said Rev. DeAndre Patterson, the church’s current pastor and a Gospel music recording artist who also pastors a church on Chicago’s West Side.

“He wanted to make sure the community knew Jesus,” said Patterson, who himself grew up in Maywood under Chambliss’s influence.

“The community got help and (Chambliss) was feeding people food, but the spirit of the Lord said the people need a little bit more than just natural food,” he said. “They needed spiritual food, so it’s always been a community church.”

Chambliss, who sat at a table near the entrance of the church with his wife Irene, looked out onto the parking lot activities. He was satisfied at what his legacy had produced, but he’s still looking to the future. There’s more work to do, he feels. 

“It’s a joy to know that we’ve been here to help the community and the people, and that the members have been community minded as well,” said Chambliss, who retired from pastoring in 2013.

“We have programs that reach out to the community in every respect,” he said. “Now, we’re trying to get a building (across the street from the church) for homeless veterans. We’ve had some people come out from Washington a couple of weeks ago who will help us do what we’ve been praying to get done here in the community.” VFP

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How a Maywood Churchgoer’s Faith Turned Into Action Became an Annual Event

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Members of the Proviso West Marching Band perform during the 2014 Health and Awareness Fair and Parade, held outside of Miracle Revival Center in Maywood. The event often features free medical services, below, among other resources. This year’s fair and parade, the 11th one, could also be the last for its founder and organizer, Bonnie Stegall. | File

Health Fair.pngThursday, July 28, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || @village_free  

Bonnie Stegall, 73, the inspiration and organizer behind a Homeless Awareness Fair and Parade that takes place each year on the grounds of Miracle Revival Center, 2010 S. St. Charles Rd., in Maywood, said this year’s event could be her last. 

During a recent interview, Stegall reflected on the reason she first hatched the idea for the annual gathering. She said the motivation came while she was on her way to church one Sunday roughly a decade ago. 

“I saw this homeless lady sitting on the bench at 25th and St. Charles and she was full of feces,” said Stegall. “She was maybe in her late 40s, early 50s. She looked like she had lost her mind and it didn’t appear that anyone was looking after her.” 

Stegall said that same morning, she came across another unfortunate sighting. This time of a little girl who appeared to be no more than 5 years old. Stegall said she followed the girl in her car for some time before the child walked into a nearby barbershop. In the same area and around the same time, the dedicated churchgoer said, she also witnessed a woman who appeared to be a teenager standing on the corner prostituting. 

The sequence of unfortunate sightings compelled Stegall to approach her pastor at the time, Bishop Willie J. Chambliss, with an urgent appeal. 

“I went into the bishop’s office and told him our people need help,” she recalled, adding that, with her pastor’s consultation, the idea to put on the free event was formed. Stegall said the event is designed to bring particular awareness to homeless veterans.

Over the years, the annual event has featured free HIV testing, book bags, school supplies, entertainment, food and a variety of other resources to thousands of community members. Stegall said the annual event is privately funded, with much of the cost paid from her and her fellow organizers’ own pockets. The returns, she said, aren’t monetary but spiritual.

“Last year, one lady came with a baby stroller and was pregnant with another child,” Stegall said. “She wanted to be tested for HIV. A lot of people, if you show that you genuinely want to help them, they’ll come out to get helped. Our people need help.”

A decade later, Stegall said, she’s planning what could be the biggest event of them all.

This year’s event, the 11th annual, will feature the usual parade and various vendors, including a local Mexican restaurant, in addition to free medical and dental services. Stegall said she’s especially excited to have landed both Proviso East and West marching bands, the popular South Shore marching band and an appearance by Buffalo Soldiers, complete with stagecoaches.

“We usually get over 1,000 people to come,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without Dr. Greg Gaither, who helps me plan this, Bishop Chambliss and our current leader, Pastor DeAndre Patterson.”

When asked why this might be the last year for the event, Stegall said simply, “I‘m 73 years old.” But she didn’t rule out perhaps doing it again next year.

“My daughters always tell me, ‘Mom, every year you say it will be your last for organizing this.’ So who knows?”

This year’s fair and parade will take place on Aug. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., outside of Miracle Revival Center, 2010 S. St. Charles Rd. The parade is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. VFP

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