New Eastside seniors stay active and grateful

by Mat Cohen

No matter how many times you’ve been through it, the winter months never get easier.

Despite the weather, New Eastside seniors can get out and about downtown and enjoy a new class to help combat the winter blues. Some use services to get around, some use their own motivation, some use the Pedway and some use volunteering as a means to stay active, while many people just want to stay inside. Overall, seniors are thankful for time spent connecting with other people.

For Win Eggers, who lives in Park Millennium at 222 N. Columbus Drive, it takes personal motivation and a drive to get out of the house and volunteer.

“I’m retired and I could be sitting in the Lazy Boy,” she said. “I could be getting fatter and all that stuff but I just won’t let that happen to myself.”

Eggers volunteers at the Chicago Architecture Center and the Chicago Cultural Center and is grateful for interactions with different people during the holidays.

“It’s neat because you’re meeting a lot of tourists,” she said. “You learn about what their country is like this time of year and then compare it to what we’re like here. It’s just a great way to meet people and I’m thankful I’m able to do it.”

She said it’s easy to get around in New Eastside while staying relatively warm.

“I can take buses, trains, cabs, I got it all right here,” she said. “Also the Pedway, you don’t have any excuse for not walking because it’s always there and always nice in the winter time.”

The Renaissance Court Regional Senior Center, at the Cultural Center, offers bridge, movies, clown classes and a choral group. Joyce Gallagher, director of senior services of the Department of Family and Support Services, knows how important these programs can be during dark days of winter.

“There’s something for everyone,” she said. “And if there’s not, we actually go and create them for you.”

The City of Chicago operates 21 senior centers, each hoping to reach the senior population, from delivering an at-home meal or providing a new educational outlet.

For Gallagher, who lives at Harbor Point, looking at Lake Michigan is something she cherishes, no matter how cold it gets.

“I love to sit and look at the lake because it’s ever-changing,” she said. “We are so fortunate in the New Eastside to have that at our front door.”

Mercy Home Marathon Runners Run for Home

By Stephanie Racine

Mercy Home is a privately funded full-time home for displaced youths that has operated in Chicago since the 1800s. 

In 1887, Reverend Dennis Mahoney put together a plan to refuge homeless young men. Mercy Home’s 1140 W. Jackson Blvd West Loop location still exists as its headquarters. Today, Mercy Home offers comprehensive support for youth in need.

“We provide kids with safety, housing, food, therapy, job opportunities, tutoring, and career guidance 24-7 throughout the year,” said Director of Communications Mark Schmeltzer.

Running the Chicago Marathon as a Mercy Home Hero is a way to support the organization. The Chicago Marathon is set for 8 a.m. Oct. 9.

Mercy Home Heroes can be anyone. Two heroes running this year, Reggie Williams-Rolle and Patrick Zamkin, both former youths at Mercy Home, are running to support their home.

“I’ve made it my life’s mission to do everything I can to make sure that folks know about [Mercy Home]” Zamkin said.

This is Zamkin’s fourth year running the marathon. Despite a number of metal replacements following a motorcycle accident when he was 20, Zamkin is gunning for five Chicago Marathons.

“It gives my orthopedic surgeon fits,” Zamkin said.

Zamkin was dropped off at Mercy Home on his 15th birthday. He said the support he got from the home helped him move forward. He works as a financial advisor after 10 years at the Chicago Board of Trade. 

“You got these guys in your corner. There’s nothing you can’t do,” Zamkin said.

Williams-Rolle is preparing for his first marathon. Training has been difficult, he said, but he’s excited to be giving back to Mercy Home.

“It’s just been a matter of being able to give back in any way that I can because I understand the importance of Mercy Home,” Williams-Rolle said.

Williams-Rolle was at Mercy Home for his final two years of High School. He graduated from St. Ignatius and got his Bachelor’s in Political Science from Emory University. He works in HR and is working on his Master’s Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Both runners are looking forward to the point in the marathon that passes by Mercy Home at mile 16.

“It’s at the perfect time because you’ll be at that point in the race where it is a little exhausting,” Williams-Rolle said.

“What a boost, seeing my family out there, all the employees, and the kids, they’re really out there rooting for you.” Zamkin said.

Mercy Home invites everyone to join their cheering section on Jackson Blvd. between Aberdeen and Racine.

For more information about Mercy Home, visit their website mercyhome.org.

Chocolate, tea a perfect pairing for Chicago fest

By Elisa Shoenberger

Ever wondered if Earl Grey tea should be paired with milk or dark chocolate? Or how to make a cocktail infused with matcha or other green teas? These are two of many lectures set for the Chicago’s International Tea Festival.

Taking place Nov. 1-3 at Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 350 W. Mart Center Dr., the festival will bring 35-40 vendors from around the world, including vendors from Nepal, Japan, and Sri Lanka, as well as local tea vendors. Tickets start at $25 for a one-day consumer pass.

The show will be Chicago’s first tea festival, started by Festival Director Nicole Burriss and six founding board members. 

Burriss, a Kansas City structural engineer, was inspired by the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, now entering its 11th year. She created the Midwest Tea Festival in Kansas City five years ago. 

“We tried to convince Nicole to come here and organize a festival because Chicago is such a diverse city,” said Agnes Rapacz, President of TeaGschwendner and a founding board member. “We believed this location would be successful for the tea festival.” 

Burriss agreed to run the fest as long as she got help.

The tea festival is open to both consumers and people in the trade. The first day is meant for people in the tea trade, though dedicated tea fans can come, and the second two days will be open to everyone.

For the price of admission, people will get a ceramic tea cup and a tote bag and will be able to taste teas from the many vendors. Burriss said people could try up to 100 teas. 

It’s also a great place to deepen knowledge about tea. People can attend more than 80 lectures or classes for an extra fee. Classes will include “Tea & Chocolate” by Sheila Duda and “Tea Cocktails” by Rapacz. There will also be a free lecture room and people can talk to the vendors.

For the “Tea Cocktails” lecture, attendees will taste cocktails and learn how to mix alcoholic drinks with tea. TeaGschwendner has also hosted chocolate and tea pairings. Rapacz recommended pairing chocolate with an opposite kind of tea, like dark chocolate and white tea, or complementary flavors such as pairing a pumpkin spice truffle with chai tea.

Back to school can be stressful for students—and parents need to look for the signs

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

For parents, a new school may reduce stress as the kids leave home for the better part of the day. But for students, it could be a different story. 

A new school, or just a new school year, can bring on subtle signs of stress and anxiety which can lead to trouble.

Simple things, like sleep trouble, can cause—or be a sign of—problems for a student, according to Emma K. Adam, a Northwestern professor of human development and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research.

“That’s something that is both a reflection of stress and contributes to more stress,” Adam said. “So that’s one area I would suggest intervening.”

Sleep problems can be caused by something as simple as a return to a school schedule, and they can create a host of problems for the student.

“When you’re thinking about the back to school transition, it’s important to get a child’s routine on track prior to beginning school,” Adam said. “It can lead to a form of jet lag to suddenly switch your child’s schedule to a much earlier wake up time. When they have that jet lag, essentially when they’re sleepy or they’re short on sleep [and] they’re less able to engage in social relationships.”

Adam said research has shown adolescents tend to fall asleep later, meaning getting a solid sleep is difficult even under the best of situations when facing early school days.

“There is, in adolescence, a biological shift where they don’t get sleepy until later at night and that runs up against the early start times for high schoolers,” Adam said. 

“It’s not just the social demands that are keeping adolescents up late, it’s actually harder for them to fall asleep,” she said. “But you can slowly change you adolescents to get them on track to a slightly earlier bedtime.”

Adam said some adolescents don’t want to talk about emotional problems, so they hide what they’re feeling. Even so, parents shouldn’t be afraid to talk to their child if they see behavioral changes.

“By adolescence, kids can be good at hiding emotions,” she said. “But parents can see it turn into anxiety and depression, or the adolescent may be less interested in activities.

“Some kids can express stress by externalizing problems, through anger and lashing out. Whenever you see a major change in a child, it might be time to sit them down and find out what’s going on in their lives.”

Downtown cancer survivor runs to raise funds

(Published July 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

New Eastside resident Alan Goldman remembers what it was like when he got the news he had prostate cancer 12 years ago. It was during a routine physical.

“My first thought was, this is the first time I was exposed to something so severe, that could affect my entire life,” he said. “I wanted to fight it aggressively, and I wanted it out of my body ASAP. I wanted it done swifty and I wanted a finality so I wouldn’t have to fight this my entire life.”

The prostate is a small gland useful for reproduction found only in men. It is also a common source of cancer—after skin cancer it is the second-most common form of cancer in men. 

Goldman made it through OK. He said his brother in law had prostate cancer, so he had a support network in his family and these days, he is fit and healthy. 

“The surgery was very successful,” he said. “I’m very healthy. I’m one of the lucky ones I guess.”

But he is not done fighting—if not for himself, then for other men across the nation. 

For the past three years, Goldman has been raising money and running in SEA Blue Chicago Prostate Cancer Walk and Run. This year’s run is Sept. 9 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lincoln Park. 

The walk and run is Chicago’s oldest prostate cancer fundraiser and it raises money for Us TOO International, a nonprofit that supports men who are dealing with prostate cancer and their families.

“I wanted to get involved in something that’s had a big impact on my life,” he said. 

Goldman did more than get involved. He is now on the board of Us TOO, and he is co-chair of the SEA Blue walk and run. Goldman’s charity work helps hundreds, if not thousands of people. 

“The money goes to support groups around the United States and we have over 200 support groups,” he said. 

Goldman explained that prostate cancer is a disease that afflicts men, but it affects the family—even after the patient beats the disease. One of the side effects of removing the prostate, for example, is erectile dysfunction and that alone can cause trauma. 

“That could be devastating to a person’s psyche,” he said. 

Goldman also suggested men over 50 get a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test every year. This blood test can screen for prostate cancer and it can save lives. 

“Most men don’t go in for an annual PSA test,” Goldman said. “Men think they’re fine if they feel fine. But you could have a cancer growing in your prostate and you can feel fine.”

To sign up for the charity walk and run, visit ustoo.rallybound.org. 

Largest biomedical research facility in U.S. opens in Streeterville

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

In June, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine unveiled the largest academic biomedical research facility in the United States.

Opening ceremonies for the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St., included local officials as well as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The facility will provide additional space for biomedical research and, according to a news release, the school is the fastest-growing research center among U.S. medical schools.

Pritzker said the Chicago facility will attract top talent.

“Building the best biomedical research hub right here in Streeterville means that we can attract researchers from all around the globe,” the governor said. “And it also means the best and the brightest will stay right here in Chicago.”

Kimberly Querrey, for whom the building is partially named, said she expects the research done in the facility will change human health.

“Lou [Simpson] and I are fortunate to be able to support the biomedical community and we’re humbled by the collaboration of the many scientists in this room committed to improving human life,” she said.

The 12-story building was designed by Perkins and Will and features a curved-glass exterior and offers Northwestern 625,000 square feet of research space. In addition, the building is designed for a future expansion that can more than double its size vertically, with up to 16 new floors in the second phase of construction.

According to the release, the site will be staffed by 2,000 people and is expected to generate $390 million a year in economic activity.

Largest biomedical research facility in U.S. opens in Streeterville

(Published June 18, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

In June, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine unveiled the largest academic biomedical research facility in the United States.

Opening ceremonies for the   Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St., included local officials as well as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The facility will provide additional space for biomedical research and, according to a news release, the school is the fastest-growing research center among U.S. medical schools.

Pritzker said the Chicago facility will attract top talent.

“Building the best biomedical research hub right here in Streeterville means that we can attract researchers from all around the globe,” the governor said. “And it also means the best and the brightest will stay right here in Chicago.”

Kimberly Querrey, for whom the building is partially named, said she expects the research done in the facility will change human health.

“Lou [Simpson] and I are fortunate to be able to support the biomedical community and we’re humbled by the collaboration of the many scientists in this room committed to improving human life,” she said.

The 12-story building was designed by Perkins and Will and features a curved-glass exterior and offers Northwestern 625,000 square feet of research space. In addition, the building is designed for a future expansion that can more than double its size vertically, with up to 16 new floors in the second phase of construction.

According to the release, the site will be staffed by 2,000 people and is expected to generate $390 million a year in economic activity.

Headache Foundation honors Nobel laureate neurobiologist Eric Kandel

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

The Chicago-based National Headache Foundation honored pioneering neurobiologist Eric Kandel in May as part of their annual gala fundraiser.

Kandel won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2000 for his work showing how memories can physically alter the brain. Kandel will be 90 in November, and in an exclusive interview with the News, he talked about his current research.

“I’m studying age-related memory loss,” he said.

Through experiments he has shown older adults can offset memory loss and improve memory through the release of osteocalcin, a hormone released from the bones. The best way to get it is by exercise and movement. Kandel said his discovery changed his life.  

“I walk everywhere,” he said. “I now walk to work, and I walk back (from)work, and I walk more than I used to.”

While Kandel said he personally hasn’t done extensive research in headaches, early in his career he studied spreading depression, which is thought to be the underlying cause of migraines.

“Headaches are a universal problem,” he said.

Among migraine sufferers is his granddaughter. During the awards ceremony, Kandel said might have changed his research if he was aware of  her condition earlier in his career.

“Had I known one of my grandchildren would develop migraine headaches, I would have continued to study migraines,” he said. “But, I’m still relatively young.”

Headache Foundation Executive Chairman Seymour Diamond praised Kandel’s work before awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“His work has contributed in so many ways to understanding headaches,” Diamond said.

The evening raised $225,000 for headache research.

Grilling guac: Why not grill the dip?

(Published May 30, 2019)

Guacamole is a popular side at any barbecue. While it’s usually cooked with raw ingredients, grilling the avocado, onion, pepper, garlic and tomatoes can add a complex, smoky flavor that improves the end result.

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, skinned, cut in half

2 small tomatoes, halved

1 jalapeno pepper, halved (seeded, if you don’t want a lot of heat)

2 large ripe avocados, halved and pitted

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1-2 large cloves of garlic not skinned

The juice from one line (or ½ depending on taste)

Cumin to taste

Salt to taste

Chop up the cilantro and set it aside in a bowl. Add a dash of cumin and some salt.

On a grill over medium heat, place the avocados face down, so the flesh is exposed to the heat. Toss the rest of the vegetables—including the limes—face down to the heat. The avocados and onion will take 3-5 minutes to char, but the tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeno should be turned regularly, exposing all sides to the heat. The lime should be checked and, once it begins to char, taken off the grill.

Once all vegetables have been charred, scoop the avocado flesh from the rind into the bowl with the cilantro. Remove the garlic skin (after it’s cooled) and add that to the bowl. The garlic should be soft, but if not, mince it first. Mince the onion and add that to the bowl. Squeeze half the lime into the bowl. Chop up the jalapeno and add that to the bowl. Roughly chop up the tomatoes, add that to the bowl.

Mix everything together by hand with a large spoon or fork or a pestle. Taste; add more lime juice, salt, cumin as needed.

Serve immediately with chips.

Unique spring runs in Chicago include bubbles, colors and love

(Published April 29, 2019)

Abhinanda Datta, Staff Writer

Although April did bring snow, it is safe to say spring has finally sprung on Chicago. Just in time for spring are healthy, fun activities to get the body in shape before beach season. If ordinary 5k races are boring, here are some weirdly fun runs:

Superhero Run 2019

Where: Diversey Event Harbor

When: 9 a.m., May 4

Wear a cape and run for a good cause. The Superhero Run, the biggest fundraising event of the year for DePaul University’s Cities Project, provides Chicago Public School students with critical mentoring and after-school support. All proceeds go toward maintenance and expansion of the program. Tickets: $35-$40.

Night Nation Run

Where: Soldier Field

When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m., May 18

The Night Nation Run is a running music festival. More than one million people have participated over the years. The run begins and ends at the Soldier Field and the course includes studded bubble zones, live DJs, light shows and black and white neon lights. As participants enjoy this unique, musical running course, the major attraction awaits near the finish line—an epic main stage after party with top headliner DJs. Tickets: $30-$60.

Bubble Run Chicago

Where: Bridgeview

When: May 25

Participants wear white t-shirts, and run, walk, dance and play across three miles, with groups starting every three to five minutes. At each kilometer, participants run through Foam Bogs where they get doused in colored foam from head to toe. Each of the four Foam Bogs along the course will be represented by different colored foam. Tickets: $40.

The Color Run Chicago

Where: Soldier Field

When: June 15

A race that celebrates love, The Color Run requires participants to wear white and bring nothing but good vibes. As participants run through the course, they are plastered with colors and once they cross the finish line, there is a party with music, dancing and even more colors. Tickets: $25-$50.

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