More Black blood donors needed for sickle cell patients
One in 12 African Americans and one in 100 Latinos carry the trait for sickle cell disease -- a debilitating blood disorder treated by blood transfusions.
Blood donors of the same racial/ethnic background make the best match. Yet, less than 5% of blood donors nationwide are Black, said Shelley Mitchell, regional manager of donor recruitment for Versiti Blood Centers of Illinois.
The Joint Caucus of Black Elected Officials and the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers this month launched a campaign to raise awareness about the need for Black blood donors for sickle cell patients.
"The past six months have been an especially devastating time for Illinois' blood supply," said Margaret Vaughn, government affairs director for the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers. "Thousands of blood drives were canceled because of closed schools, business, etc., due to COVID, and the demand for blood has increased greatly this summer because of people who had postponed medical care during the spring are now requiring more complex treatments."
Donors must be at least 17 years old, in good health and weigh 110 pounds. A person can donate whole blood once every 56 days. To find a donation center, visit americasblood.org.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other leaders representing minority communities discussed making transportation accessible to essential workers who predominantly are people of color during a virtual event Thursday.
The panel discussion on transportation equity broadcast live on Facebook was part of Cook County's Racial Equity Week programs.
"One of the troubling things about our present moment is that COVID-19 has exposed the tremendous racial inequities that exist in a variety of arenas and not the least of these is what's happened economically to our communities," Preckwinkle said. "Many of our residents in Cook County have had the opportunity to work remotely, but they're mostly white collar residents and they're mostly white people. Our essential workers, disproportionately Black and brown, have been required to show up for work."
That includes grocery store clerks, pharmacy technicians, first responders and nurses -- predominantly minorities who rely on public transit.
Lower fares, greater access
Cook County's Fair Transit initiative, which kicks off early in 2021, will support Metra Commuter Rail lines serving underserved communities in Chicago's South and Southeast sides and the South Suburbs.
"What we really need in our region is a universal fare card" that would allow transfers at a modest cost between Pace Suburban Bus, Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority, Preckwinkle said.
Within the seven-county region, Black and Latino residents experience the longest commute times -- roughly 44 minutes each way -- and live in households with a median income of $31,000. Areas with the shortest commute times are in majority white communities with a median income of more than $75,000. Minority residents in parts of the south and west sides of Cook County are experiencing commute times of more than 60 minutes, officials said.
"Approximately one-third of the region's population lives in economically disconnected areas" with concentrations of low-income households and minority or limited English proficiency populations, said Audrey Wennink, transportation director for the Metropolitan Planning Council.
The village of Hanover Park will host an educational virtual town hall at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 on "Know Your Immigrant Rights: The Trust Act."
Hanover Park Police Chief Mike Menough and representatives of the nonprofit North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic are among the panelists.
The event will be broadcast live on Facebook. To register for the Zoom event, visit tinyurl.com/HanoverParkKnowYourRights. Submit questions beforehand by emailing Trustee Liza Gutierrez at LGutierrez@hpil.org.
Helping students thrive
Oakton Community College in Des Plaines has been awarded a $1.7 million federal grant for its TRIO Program, which helps students graduate.
The money will be distributed over five years to help students from low-income families, first-generation college-goers and students with disabilities succeed. Oakton first received this grant in 1990 and has since helped thousands of students through an array of services, including academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring and course guidance.
"It is to help underrepresented students," said Esperanza Salgado-Rodriguez, Oakton's manager of TRIO Student Support Services. "It's really individualized to the students' needs. We support in their persistence and graduation goals."
Supporting minority businesses
The Illinois Office of Minority Economic Empowerment and other state agencies will host a series of virtual events celebrating Latino culture and contributions for National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The free webinars will provide tips on how Latino entrepreneurs and business owners can access free resources and supports to strengthen their business. The webinars are in partnership with businesses, chambers of commerce, cultural and community organizations, and industry experts.
"Our administration is committed to lifting up all of our Hispanic-owned businesses now more than ever before, given the profound impact COVID-19 has had on these communities," said Erin Guthrie, director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Sessions will be in Spanish and English, and include topics, such as accessing capital, branding, grants application, and special panels with experts in the industries of film, manufacturing and government contracting. For a listing of webinars, visit www2.illinois.gov/dceo.
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