#Member Monday- Spotlight on Vora Long Williams

Posted: June 10, 2019 in Uncategorized
#MemberMondays is proudly relaunching with our Feature on Vora Long Williams

For Vora Long Williams Englewood is home. She has spent all but three years of her life living in Englewood and is leaving her mark. From being told to pick up the block by some neighbor to being that neighbor to tell people to clean up the block, Vora is an asset to Englewood.

Vora Long Williams at the Sweet Water Foundation. Image is from their February article on her.

   An Englewood native, Vora was born in the Cook County Hospital in 1960. Marrying Anthony Long at 17 and graduating from Simeon High School in 1978, she found herself on a three-year journey from Chicago to Nuremberg, Germany and eventually Fort Dixon, New Jersey. Her husband was in the military and by the age of 21 he passed; By 1981 Vora was a widow with two children. Vora states, “I was a widow at 21 so I was focused on raising my children”.

   Now a retired postal worker raising her grandson with Mr. Long, Vora has become one of the leaders in Englewood. Right after retirement in 2012, she noticed the playground in Edmonds Park needed renovation. She got involved with the alderman at that time, Joann Thompson, and was able to secure a new playground and equipment for her neighborhood park. This was during the beginning of the $1 Large Lot Program which brought Voran and R.A.G.E. president Aysha Butler into contact. This was a large victory for Vora, yet it wasn’t the only contributions she would make in her community.

   The large lot program opened up the opportunity for community residents to be stewards of their neighborhood. Vora had the opportunity to buy a lot on her block thanks to this program. She transformed the vacant lot into “The Peace Garden” before her and other residents created the Edmonds Homeowner’s Association, which inspired her to change the name of her lot into the “Edmonds Peace Garden”. Her reasoning, “I created that lot for the seniors like myself”, adding,” so I created the peace garden and I changed it over to the Edmonds Homeowner’s Association because we created that out of the peace garden and everything else on the block”.

  Images from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago 2016 article.

Vora has become a mother of her block and to some, “Little Miss Molly”. When Vora was a kid, Molly Edmonds was the person in the neighborhood telling kids to pick up trash. She was also responsible for getting the playground that has become Edmonds Park. Vora explains, “Miss Molly was the person that, when I was a girl, everybody couldn’t stand her cause she told on us; she made us pick up paper and everything and she was really involved”. She continues, “Now I’m the one the kids hate and they are going to love me like I grew to love her”. Vora is this generation’s mother of the 700 block of South 61st.

   Vora meeting Aysha at the large lot program meetings showed they had a common interest. They both understood the value of the lot program and were deeply invested in the future of the Englewood community. What impressed Vora was the Aysha was a resident, like herself, so joining R.A.G.E. was the most logical decision at the time. Vora adds, “when you are a resident you want to invest where you live at”.

   Vora has been a member of R.A.G.E. for close to five years. She’s involved with the Quality of Life Plan, participating in Housing and Public Spaces Task Force as well as Jobs and Economic Development Task Force. The day we were able to interview her was during a meeting on ‘Zombie Properties’, which are abandoned properties that the homeowners retain the title to. She’s also Chicago Cares Community Coordinator for the Englewood area where she works on allocating corporate support for various projects supporting nonprofit organization. Her work with Chicago Cares even included the lot and planters at the R.A.G.E. Headquarters on 66th and Union. It seems retirement has freed Vora to become a steward of Englewood.

   Englewood isn’t Vora’s only passion. Raising her grandson is just as important and our community is the legacy we leave the next generation. When choosing her favorite R.A.G.E moments she says, “ all of them”, before putting So Fresh Saturday’s and her Chicago Cares contributions high on the list. She goes back to Aysha stating, “what I love about her is she lives in the Englewood community. She has not moved and so many people get older, like most the people in my generation, and move to another community. Even my daughter moved to a suburb because the crime that was going on”. Vora’s passion for the future is firmly placed in the reality of the now.

   Vora’s favorite quote is “Englewood is on the rise”, which she describes, “through the alderman, through the wards being squared off, seeing new homes, seeing new people, seeing the homeowners, seeing reduction in our vacant lots, seeing our boarded-up buildings occupied again, seeing growth”. By qualifying and quantifying her statement she shows how she sees the community rising. Her aspirations aren’t just on the individual level but on the community level. She’s looking to secure a greater Englewood for all residents of Englewood.

   Vora sees promise in the future of Englewood. Pointing to new leadership, like 16th ward alderman Stephanie Coleman and Mayor Lightfoot, she sees Englewood “Rising Again”. One issue she looking forward to being addressed is the number of Aldermen and wards that separate the Englewood community. Vora states, “I want to see what the mayor has for the southside”, adding “ I would like her (Lightfoot) to eliminate the five aldermen we and narrow it down to a smaller number or rezone it so we don’t have the 17th ward right across from the 20th ward”.

Thank You Vora Long Williams For Your Dedication To The Greater Englewood Community!!!

  1. […] #Member Monday- Spotlight on Vora Long Williams #MemberMonday — Maria Pike […]

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