Silver Cross HCC Helps National Hook-up of Black Women Put Community on a Healthy Path
For 30 years, the Joliet Chapter of the National Hook-up of Black Women has worked to set those struggling on a safe path.
Now, thanks to a grant from the Silver Cross Healthy Community Commission, they have a path, and much more.
The 7 acres they have behind their headquarters now has a gravel walking path, said Deb Upshaw, NHBW Executive Director. And it was put to good use at the group’s September 18 Community Day, which kicked off with a “Laps for Literacy” run/walk and included free COVID testing, COVID and flu shots, school supplies, new toys and clothes.
The event also included a ribbon-cutting for NHBW’s Healthy Eating Active Living (H.E.A.L.) Garden, -- in partnership with the county’s We Will Grow program -- which grew from three raised box gardens to 28.
This new mission of the NHBW provides much-needed fresh vegetables for the Preston Heights and Sugar Creek neighbors.
“Living in a food desert is no joke,” Upshaw said. “There are no grocery stores here to provide fresh foods. So, we grow our own and give them away. We also partner with Northern Illinois Food Bank on the second and fourth Thursdays for food giveaways.”
Upshaw said the fresh vegetables – kale, collard greens, turnip greens, green beans, brussel spouts and the like – were extremely popular with the crowds at the Community Day.
“They carried a lot of vegetables out with them,” Upshaw said. “My husband, Tyronne Upshaw, who does a wonderful job managing the gardens, said it’s a good thing we got some rain after that, so we can grow more!”
“People can take what they want from the garden anytime. There are no locks on the gate.”
To give the kids even more healthy alternatives, they’ll set out a roll-away basketball hoop, and installed an exercise room with weight equipment and a fitness instructor, in their headquarters, the former Oak Valley School building.
Founded in 1991, the NHBW Joliet Chapter works to improve the quality of life, facilitate family preservation, achieve self-empowerment, and promote economic development. Membership reflects a diversity of women from varied business, professional, and community disciplines crossing all economic, social and educational levels.
They promote a healthy mind and body, providing scholarships and other resources to help those in need achieve their goals.
The NHBW is among the strong community partners of the Silver Cross Healthy Community Commission, founded in 2008 to help create a stronger, healthier future by providing support for education, workforce development training, and enrichment activities for youth, to improve the quality of life for the communities they serve.
There is a lot of work to do, Upshaw said, “but if we each take a piece, then we can provide the whole.”