Ten Years Later: Albany Park Neighborhood Council

Dressed in green, members of the APNC celebrated accomplishments and proposed future goals. Upon Quinn’s arrival, the APNC group challenged the Governor to pass new laws to support affordable housing, health care, quality education, and to lower the age when teens can began working.

Diane Limas, a volunteer leader, has been a member since the group was formed and says community involvement is what gets things done. “We work on issues that are important to the people who we represent, especially people in the community,” Limas said. “We hear what the issues are from the community and it’s our job to make sure the elected officials hear what these issues are.”

Roosevelt High School Sophomore Melissa Sotelo, 16, addressed the Governor on behalf of the APNC youth, requesting Quinn push to pass a law that would enable teens under age 15 to get summer jobs.

Quinn responded, “We believe in work in Illinois and working people.”  He promised APNC that his committee would look into government rules to see if this was something they could accomplish. “I do believe in youth employment,” Quinn said. “We have to work to make sure our youth have a chance to provide service.” 
Quinn also promised the community group that he would fight for decent schools, health care, immigration and putting a stop to violence in communities.

According to member Euea Dercishi, the APNC focuses on these main problems and the group is thankful government figures are starting to help the APNC reach its goals. Euea Dercishi also explained that Albany Park is the third most diverse ZIP code in the entire United States, and that with everyone speaking different languages it is important to keep the community educated on issues as well.

Dr. Azher Quader, a member who serves on the board of the APNC, has been a part of the community outreach group since it was formed. Quader said when the group first began there where many different issues in the community, but members of the APNC were not sure how to start making changes in the community. Ten years later and even after many community improvements, Quader says, “Our work is still there.”

Quader explained the group wants to continue to strive towards accomplishing goals and solving problems that continue to affect the Albany Park Community. Quader recently headed an APNC project called Charity Care, which found that Chicago non-profit hospitals received $300,000,000 in tax breaks in exchange for free and reduced emergency-room care.

After the meeting Quinn talked about the importance of community groups. “The great thing about our city and our state is that if people have an issue in neighborhoods or maybe a bunch of issues, they band together and work together,” he said. “They don’t stand alone. It’s strength and numbers.”