Open Communities honored its champions June 10 at its “Say Yes! Justice Awards” held at the Woman’s Club of Evanston on June 10. More than 160 guests attended the program that honored three individuals for standing up for community inclusiveness.
“This is a wonderful affair and I’m glad the parking lot is full,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.
During the evening, Ed and Ellen McManus of Wilmette received the first-ever Jean R. Cleland Social Action Award, and the Rev. Robert H. Oldershaw, pastor emeritus of Evanston St. Nicholas Church, received the Rayna and Marvin Miller Community Justice Award.
“I’m always happy when Father Oldershaw is honored,” said Chief of Police Richard Eddington who attended. “He’s contributed so much and I think he’s one of Evanston’s treasures we need to celebrate.”
“He’s my hero,” said Susan Garcia Trieschmann, of Oldershaw. Trieschmann, executive director of Curt’s Café at 2922 Central St. in Evanston, works with the pastor and relies on him.
Ed and Ellen McManus received a standing ovation for their work. The couple received the first-ever Jean R. Cleland Social Action Award, which honors the late Jean Cleland, a founding board member of the North Shore Interfaith Housing Council, now called Open Communities, who served on its board for more than 30 years.
“Ed and I are amazed and so humbled to receive Jean’s award,” said Ellen McManus while acknowledging the honor. “Jean was a role model who was always doing the right thing and she did it because she so deeply believed in it.”
Cleland helped others to stand up for their right to reside in their chosen communities and was instrumental in helping to secure a 1965 speaking engagement by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who addressed thousands of people at Wilmette’s village green.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin presented the proclamation of the Cleland award and noted, “I’m excited to be with people who care so much about their community.”
Corrie Wallace, a three-year Skokie resident and a 1990 Evanston Township High School graduate, is vice president of Open Communities’ Board of Directors.
She noted that “this is an outstanding organization that we hope more people get involved with and support because it addresses some basic needs which is housing and where people live and feeling comfortable in open communities.”
The benefit evening raised $20,000 to support Open Communities’ mission is to educate, advocate and organize to promote just and inclusive communities in north suburban Chicago.