Little Village resource fair on public health, immigration set for Saturday

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez will be at the event in Little Village, as will organizations offering free immigration and public health resources, plus a slew of vaccines.

SHARE Little Village resource fair on public health, immigration set for Saturday
Dr. Howard Ehrman, former assistant health commissioner, speaks at a news conference outside St. Agnes of Bohemia at 2643 S. Central Park in Little Village, Sunday, April 24, 2022.

Dr. Howard Ehrman, former assistant health commissioner, is among those organizing a resource fair in Little Village on Saturday. Here, he speaks at a news conference in the neighborhood in April.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

An armful of free vaccines will be available Saturday at La Villita Park, where attendees also can get information on public health, immigration — and maybe even arranged to have a free tree planted in front of their house.

The office of Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) is organizing the event along with community groups from the Near Southwest Side and the People’s Response Network, a grassroots organization dedicated to public health.

The fair will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the park’s north entrance, near Whipple and 27th streets in Little Village. No registration is necessary.

Vaccines for COVID-19, flu and monkeypox will be available, as will a slew of child vaccines, including polio and whooping cough, which cropped up in Oak Park in 2020.

Organizations will distribute free home testing kits for COVID; offer tips for saving money on utilities; share information on bilingual schools; and even register people to get a free tree planted at their home as part of the city’s “Our Roots Chicago” initiative to plant 75,000 trees in the next five years.

Ald. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez speaks at a news conference outside St. Agnes of Bohemia Gym at 2643 S. Central Park in Little Village, Sunday, April 24, 2022.

Ald. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez, speaking at a news conference in April outside St. Agnes of Bohemia Gym, 2643 S. Central Park, in Little Village.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Sigcho-Lopez and public health advocates have slammed the city’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, saying the pandemic is not over and the city drastically needs to expand its public health services.

In the last month, around 12,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and organizers of the event bristled that masking and testing aren’t required, even though about 5,400 Chicago Public Schools students and staff have contracted the virus since returning to schools, according to CPS data.

The park in Little Village was chosen for its symbolic significance. South Lawndale, which includes Little Village, was one of Chicago’s most affected areas, according to the city’s COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index.

“The purpose of this fair is very simple: All these organizations are doing what the city should be doing,” said Dr. Howard Ehrman, an organizer of the People’s Response Network and former assistant commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. Ehrman has been a vocal critic of the city’s pandemic response and the agency he used to work for.

Andrew Buchanan, a spokesperson for the city health department, said in response that the pandemic was not over, but that “we are in a different phase of the pandemic, with vaccines, treatments, and testing widely available.”

Ehrman, who served in the health department during Mayor Harold Washington’s administration, criticized how the department has shrunk in the decades since then, saying that while the city has received billions in federal coronavirus aid, that cash has gone to contractors instead of building up the public health department.

“The city is no better prepared for the next pandemic — whether it’s monkeypox, polio or anything else,” he said, calling on the city to install nurses in schools and vaccinate students in classrooms as the 75-year-old was vaccinated in his South Shore elementary school.

Buchanan responded that federal funding had been used very carefully to benefit the city in the long-term.

“CDPH’s positions grew by almost 50% during the pandemic to more than 850 positions today,” Buchanan said, adding that positions were full-time positions with benefits.

Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.

The Latest
Both Andre Drummond (left ankle) and Ayo Dosunmu (right quadricep) were sidelined at the end of the regular season and heading into the play-in game. By game time against Atlanta, however, both were cleared, giving coach Billy Donovan some much needed depth.
The Cubs optioned Daniel Palencia and Luke Little and brought up Hayden Wesneski and Colten Brewer.
The Cubs claimed a series win against the Diamondbacks with a 5-3 victory on Wednesday
CBS show will be based at the Auditorium Theatre from Aug. 19 to 22.
Richard Brendan Globensky allegedly transported stolen Masters golf tournament merchandise and memorabilia from the Augusta National Gold Club in Georgia between 2009 and 2022.