'I am there for our community': Trailblazing Schaumburg trustee will attend first board meeting Tuesday
By Madhu Krishnamurthy
Esha Patel, who recently was sworn in as a Schaumburg village trustee, is the first Indian-American woman on the panel.
"We have almost 25% Asians living in Schaumburg," said Patel, 46, who was appointed to fill a vacancy created by the death of Trustee Frank Kozak. Her term expires May 2025.
"A lot of things are happening in Schaumburg when it comes to South Asians," she said. "I am there for our community."
Patel speaks Gujarati and Hindi and hopes to be the go-to person for residents who are more comfortable communicating in those languages.
A resident of Schaumburg since 2008, Patel has served on the village Cultural Commission for 1½ years. She now is the chairwoman of the Heath & Human Services Committee and a member of the Planning, Building & Development and Engineering & Public Works committees.
Patel and her husband, Timir Patel, are State Farm agents with an office in Glendale Heights.
Her first board meeting as a trustee is Tuesday.
The Islamic Community Center of Des Plaines is seeking to expand its facilities.
The mosque community has grown considerably since the center opened its doors more than 20 years ago. The center includes a full-time Islamic elementary school up to third grade run by licensed teachers, a full-time Quran Hifz (memorization) School, two weekend schools, and weekend youth programs for boys and girls.
In a letter to the community, ICCD President Imad Achmar wrote there is an urgent need to expand the center's prayer hall to accommodate those who gather there weekly for Friday congregational prayers held in two sessions. The expansion also would alleviate overcrowding during the holy month of Ramadan, when nightly congregational prayers are held.
A full-time Islamic school for all grades, a gymnasium for youth, and funeral facilities also are needed, he said.
Leaders already have purchased two properties next to the mosque and received a third property as a donation to start the expansion. They are seeking donations for the construction. More than $16,400 of a $500,000 goal has been raised so far.
The center's annual community dinner will be held at 5 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Holiday Inn Banquet Hall in Skokie. Renowned scholar Yasir Qadhi and Imam AbdulMalik will be guest speakers. For tickets, visit us.mohid.co/il/nwcs/iccdmasjid/masjid/online/ticketing.
Northbrook-based Jewish Community Centers Chicago is offering free virtual and in-person programs in February for Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month. The programs are open to all ages.
• Feb. 1: A virtual screening of the award-winning short documentary "My Disability Roadmap" will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event includes a pre-screening talkback with disability rights advocate Emily Ladau, author of "Demystifying Disability," and post-film chat with co-director and 21-year-old star Samuel Habib, who drives a 350-pound wheelchair and uses a communication device.
• Feb. 12: Messy Day at the J: Sensory Friendly Edition, 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Bernard Weinger JCC in Northbrook. Families can participate in art projects involving slime-making, kinetic sand art, and paint. The program is geared toward children 3 to 10 years and is sensory-friendly with moderate lighting. Noise-canceling headphones will be provided, and a quiet zone with fidgets will be available.
"The J is committed to providing inclusive opportunities designed to meet the needs of all our members and beyond. From early childhood to our day and overnight camps, to adult programming, inclusion of those with disabilities has always been at the forefront of our mission," JCC Chicago's Inclusion Coordinator Rena Rosen said.
To register for the programs, visit jccchicago.org/jdaim.
William J. Barber II
Social justice talk
The Rev. William Joseph Barber II, noted pastor and social justice activist, will speak Feb. 10 at Benedictine University in Lisle.
The program is part of the university's Black History Month celebration.
Barber will speak from 2 to 3 p.m. at Benedictine's Goodwin Hall of Business, Room 411, at 5700 College Road. The event is free and open to the public.
Barber is founding director of the just-established Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at the Yale Divinity School.
"It is a rare opportunity for our university's leadership, faculty, student body and our surrounding community to hear firsthand from a nationally renowned pastor who has devoted his life to fighting systemic racism and poverty in America," Benedictine President Charles Gregory said.
Barber has given keynote addresses at hundreds of national and state conferences, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He is the president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach; co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign; bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary; and senior fellow at Auburn Seminary. He began his ministry 29 years ago at Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and has written several books.
Chinese New Year
Aurora ushered in the Chinese Lunar New Year with a celebration Sunday.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin joined the city's Chinese community leaders and members to issue a special proclamation urging residents to support the Asian community.
This year is the Year of the Rabbit. In Chinese culture, the rabbit symbolizes longevity, peace and prosperity.
The celebration was held at Pacifica Square, Aurora's Asian-themed shopping mall, which has nearly two dozen Asian-owned businesses. It included a traditional lion dance during which children and adults "fed" the lion red envelopes, symbolizing luck and prosperity for the year ahead.
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