We’d like you to meet a couple of fierce progressive organizers who are working for change in the 15th Ward and across Chicago. Elena and Aaron are volunteer leaders with Grassroots Illinois Action and United Working Families, building power in their neighborhood and organizing to elect Rafael Yañez as alderman and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to the mayor’s office.
Elena got involved with grassroots organizing when her daughter became ill and needed to take medicine every two hours. Because the school no longer had a nurse, Elena spent her time in the school parking lot waiting to administer her daughter’s medication. Soon she was volunteering at the school and speaking up for students.
Elena met Rafael Yañez when he attended one of the Local School Council (LSC) member trainings she leads, and now she is volunteering in the 15th ward, working to elect Yañez to the City Council and Chuy Garcia as mayor, and fighting for a more progressive future for Chicago. “I refuse to let another parent lose the opportunity to fight for their children’s future,” Elena says.
Aaron works at Back of the Yards High School, so he sees firsthand how cuts to the education budget have affected students. “These kids don’t have the quality of education that they deserve,” he said. To him, education is the most important issue at stake right now, especially the need for school programs to help kids escape violence.
Aaron volunteers to help Chuy Garcia and Rafael Yañez because they are involved in their communities the same way he is. Like Garcia, Aaron has studied urban planning. And Aaron appreciates Yañez’s work in community policing and violence prevention. “We need politicians who are working for the people, not the businesses,” he says.