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This Week’s Member Monday is On Maria Pike and her path to R.A.G.E.

Maria holding a picture of her son Ricky, who was a victim of gun violence

Maria Pike’s journey to becoming a R.A.G.E. member is a hero’s journey. Personal tragedy has propelled her into the midst of the battle for the spirit of Chicago, as well as securing a brighter future for the youth. Belonging to multiple organizations, Maria’s life mission is to create change  on a structural and community level that will enact sensible policy shifts that will make all of Chicago great.

Born in Peru, in a family of seven, her father worked hard to send all of her siblings to private school. During this time she developed a love for language, speaking Spanish, English, and studying German in her youth. After high school she studied hotel management that led her on an international journey to Brazil, England, and Spain; during her travels she learnt French, Portuguese, and Italian. Working for the 5-Star Sheraton International Hotels, she was transferred to a location Rio De Janeiro; in London she continued her studies for three years; she also spent two years in Barcelona where she was a hair model. She finished her collegiate studies in the US, attending Durham College and UNC in North Carolina and Roosevelt University in Chicago, though she only earned an associates with a plethora of advanced language credits.Through a series of fortunate events, her general manager from Brazil had an opportunity for her to work at a hotel in Evanston. She was in her 20’s when she came to Illinois.

Initially living and working in Evanston, Maria landed a job at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and moved to Rogers Park. Following her time there she moved to Lakeview where she lived for 27 years, before moving to Pilsen where she lives now. On these events leading her to becoming a Chicagoan she states,” it was odd because you wouldn’t imagine that this person (her GM) was from our continent. He opened four hotels in Latin America and he ends up moving to the states to the middle of the country, to a place called Evanston”. Maria adds, “ it’s one of those odd things that happen in your life and you are like, ‘oh, is this planned’”?!

By the early 90’s she had to change her career to raise her two sons, as the 70 hours per week in the hotel left little quality time with her kids. She became a realtor and ran an antique store, utilizing her skill for restorative craftsmanship. As a realtor she specialized in restoring rundown homes and sale them for a profit, even acquiring two “bungalows” off of 64th and Maplewood, which made her familiar with Englewood. Craftsmanship isn’t the only restorative work she had a calling for, as the death of one of her son’s led her to restorative justice work.

Maria’s two sons.

Her eldest son, Ricky Pike, was murdered outside his new apartment in Logan Square during August of 2012. An aspiring restaurant owner, Ricky’s death was a catalyst for Maria to fight for the future of the children of Chicago; with Logan Square being considered a ‘safe’ community Maria knew that the fight against gun violence was a fight that impacted all communities. She became an advocate against gun violence, joining groups like Chicago Survivors, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, along with many others. This traumatic moment changed her life to, “want to find out why people killed without any remorse”.

Ricky’s death was in the midst of Chicago developing a new moniker…Chiraq. With a combination of hip hop, reactionary news, and Spike Lee’s artistic direction a constellation of forces wanted to brand the city as synonymous with a war zone. Spike Lee’s Chiraq came out three years after Ricky’s murder, but the stinge of it still impacted survivors of gun violence. For Maria this was, “total disrespect to survivor moms”, especially after St Sabina allowed and commended the usage of the title of his film, while bringing survivor moms to endorse the film. Maria felt that the survivor moms were being used as props, stating,” I was bursting with anger because the majority of survivors number in the thousands”, pointing out there were less than 80 in the group that Father Pfleger claimed to represent. This even led Maria to write the screenwriter, Kevin Willmott, demanding he change the name, though he claimed it not possible as the agreement was already complete. Maria felt the film was, “insulting a whole generation of children and they are the ones who need the most uplifting”.

Chiraq acted as a rallying call for those who wanted to change the narrative of how Chicago’s Englewood community was viewed. Award winning news anchor, Robin Robinson, wanted to interview moms who were against the premise and Maria was invited. President of R.A.G.E., Aysha Butler, was also invited to talk about what she thought about her community being called Chiraq. During this meeting, Aysha stated, “It really goes against the people who live there and have been here for generations, and who have children, and it labels them unfairly”. Maria agreed with that sentiment,  so she started talking to Aysha. Maria adds, “she said she had meetings, called R.A.G.E., and I started going to her meetings”.

Image may contain: 8 people, including Maria Pike, people smiling, people standing and outdoor
Maria and others with Mayor Lightfoot

Maria became a member of R.A.G.E due to how organized the meetings were, the amount of respect given to the members, and the fact they put the information in laymen’s terms. Maria spouts, “if a member attacks you (R.A.G.E.) they do not promote the sort of shutting down… they go in a very polite way. They say, ‘can we talk offline’, ‘can we talk about this after’; they never give mess a chance”. Maria believes this communication is respectful to the seniors in the community who she believes are the most loyal community members. She points to the work done on TIF’s, stating, “they took the time to go through a university to get compiled data to find out exactly how TIF is understood by the general public”. After close to five years of being a member of R.A.G.E., she uses it as her primary outlet for community work.

You can find Maria at most meetings taking an active role. She takes part in the Quality of Life Plan through many task forces, but most of her time is dedicated to Public Safety and Education work, where she advocates for trauma-informed care and integrating a curriculum with CPS that includes ethnic studies and SEL. She continues her fight against gun violence, as she is a fellow with Everytown for Gun Safety, while advocating for restorative practices like Quiet Time and peace circles. For example, in regards to quiet time, she states, ”Quiet Time is used in some suburban rich schools, but where it’s most needed is in under-served schools because of dysfunctional families and dysfunctional communities”. She’s been at every community event I’ve attended, when not representing us outside the community.

Outside of the amazing community work she takes part in, Maria loves to travel. Whenever she can, she enjoys going to the Carolina Coasts to go fishing. When she doesn’t have time she tries catching up on outdoor living shows. She also practices transcendental meditation, a silent practice.


#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!!!

So Fresh Saturday – June 15 – Moran Park – 5727 S. Racine – 2pm-6pm

The season for “So Fresh Saturdays” is here and R.A.G.E. is excited to announce that our 2019 summer park tour will launch on Saturday, June 15th at Moran Park located 5727 S. Racine  from 2pm-6pm.  For seven years, R.A.G.E. has hosted “So Fresh Saturdays” as part of  Chicago’s larger Nights Out in the Parks effort. Each year R.A.G.E. reclaims local parks in Greater Englewood in the name of peace to offer residents a free, family-oriented, “edutainment” festival where they can enjoy games, performances by local artists, food, raffles, and relevant resources throughout the summer. In 2018, So Fresh Saturday expanding to include seven parks serving more than 7,000 individuals.

It is with great pride that we provide this free event to residents who are often overwhelmed with negative ideas of what it means to be an inner-city resident of Chicago. The kick-off event for So Fresh Saturdays on June 15th is a part of the This is My Englewood (T.I.M.E. 21:36) launch and will include positive entertainment from over 10 local musicians and artists plus offer a community resource fair that brings together nearly 20 organizations and schools that have programming and opportunities for resident. Children of all ages can take part in a variety of games, arts and crafts, as well as a bounce house. Guests will also have the opportunity to participate in a raffle and receive complimentary food. And in solidarity with the Moms Demand Action and Everytown Survivor Network, we will also wear the color orange to honor all victims of gun violence and survivor families in our city, state and nation. 

If you or someone you know wants to perform at a So Fresh Saturday, please email your songs, videos, links and or soundcloud information to If you are school, group or organization and want to secure a table as a resource provider at So Fresh Saturday, complete this registration form. We hope to see many of you there…And let’s get FRESH!!!

It’s time to get FRESH!! The season for “So Fresh Saturdays” is approaching and R.A.G.E. is beginning to plan! “So Fresh Saturdays,” a fun, family-focused, community-driven, “edu-tainment” festival series that tours parks throughout Greater Englewood would love to invite you to perform! Sign up here today –

If you are a local artist, dance group, choir, poet or if you manage local artists, we would love for you to be a part of So Fresh Saturdays, hosted by the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) So Fresh Saturdays is a community driven edutainment series that showcases various artistic expressions and educational workshops focusing on youth, entrepreneurship, hip hop, media, social networks, community activism, and culturally relevant history using music, film, and art! Sign up here today –

We are taking over 5 parks throughout Greater Englewood in the name of peace and want to invite artists who can perform without glorifying violence, sex or drugs to join us for one or all the Saturdays on the tour! If you are interested, please complete this form and send a demo or link of your music to If you have any questions, call us 866-845-1032.

The Buy the Block Englewood series continues on Saturday, May 18th from 11:30am-1pm at the Red Shield Salvation Army located at 945 W. 69th St. This will be a pop-up Lunch & Learn at the Englewood Family Resource Fair. Space is limited so attendees must RSVP to hold a seat at

Our last event focused on many of the incentives to buy in Englewood and the basic steps to become a first time home buyer. Attendees left this event feeling more informed and prepared to take the necessary steps to purchase a home in Englewood. This series is being led by RAGE in partnership with the Englewood Quality of Life Housing and Public Spaces Task Force to help promote and provide tools for individuals and current renters in Englewood looking to purchase property. For more info about this series please contact us at 866-845-1032. We hope to see you on May 18th! Again space is limited so you must RSVP in advance at!

Connect + Build + Take Action!

All are welcome to join R.A.G.E. for our next Englewood Village Meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at King Academy of Social Justice – located 644 W. 71st St. from 6pm – 8pm.

All will receive a complimentary dinner, hear R.A.G.E. updates, learn about the recent legislation and advocacy happening with the legalization of cannabis, an update about the gang database report of City of Chicago Inspector General and more!  So please join us as we gather to “connect, build and take action to force a change in the community. For more info contact us at 866-845-1032 or email us at!

Greater Englewood Ward Maps 2019

The Buy the Block Englewood Series Returns, Saturday, May 4th at Teamwork Englewood located at 815 W. 63rd St., 2nd Fl., from 10am-1pm. Spaces is limited so RSVP today here –

The Englewood Quality of Life Housing and Public Spaces Task Force in partnership with the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE) is excited to relaunch the Buy the Block Englewood series to promote and provide tools for individuals looking to purchase property in Englewood.

The first workshop will featured our partners from South Side Credit Union, Fresh Start Home CDC, financial and housing experts to share the necessary steps to become a homeowner specifically in the Englewood Community. Space is limited so please RSVP by May 1st. For more info contact RAGE at 866-845-1032 or email us at

It’s that time of year again to get our hands dirty for the Greater Englewood Unity Day in connection with Chicago’s Citywide Clean and Green Volunteer Clean Up on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

Together we can make a difference in Englewood! Join us for the 7th Annual Greater Englewood Unity Day to help clean up the Englewood community on April 27, 2019. Residents, businesses, organizations, churches and elected officials will come together to clean up vacant lots and blocks from 10am-1pm and then join together for a Unity Celebration from 1pm-3pm at the Jean Carter-Hill Community Garden. This community clean-up is organized in connection with Chicago’s Citywide Clean and Green Volunteer Clean Up. The purpose of this day of service is to show unity and take pride in beautifying our beloved neighborhood.  The schedule for the event is as follows:

  • 9:00am – 10:00am:  Light Breakfast @ Jean Carter-Hill Community Garden
  • 10:00am – 1:00pm: Clean up @ Various locations – RAGE will be cleaning at the RAGE Campus on 66th & Union – See flyer below and call RAGE at 866-845-1032 if you want help us out!
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm:  Unity Celebration @ Jean Carter-Hill Community Garden

Breakfast and the Unity Celebration will take place in the Jean Carter-Hill Community Garden located in front of Nicholson STEM Academy – 6006 S. Peoria Street. Please register for Greater Englewood Unity Day using the appropriate registration link below. After you complete the Google form, please call 3-1-1 to place an order for clean up tools (rakes, shovels, brooms, bags) for your site/block ASAP.  For more info to get involved contact Imagine Englewood If at 773-488-6704 or

GROUP – 2019 Greater Englewood Unity Day Registration Form

INDIVIDUAL – 2019 Greater Englewood Unity Day Registration Form

Meet us tomorrow for our Englewood Village Meeting at Ogden Park at 6pm!


All are welcome to join R.A.G.E. for our next Englewood Village Meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at Ogden Park located 6500 South Racine from 6pm – 8pm.

Englewood Village - March 19 v1

All will receive a complimentary dinner, hear R.A.G.E. updates, learn how to be more involved in the Englewood Quality of Life Task Forces and more!  So please join us as we gather to “connect, build and take action to force a change in the community.


For more information, contact R.A.G.E. at 866-845-1032 or email

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The inaugural Community Healing Fair is the beginning of a community-driven initiative intended to bring together numerous institutions who provide local education and resources for a holistic approach to address trauma in our community.

This is a FREE event being held on March 23 at the Port Ministries located on 5017 S. Hermitage.

Entrance: Enter at 5017 S Hermitage, NOT ADA ACCESSIBLE

Parking: Parking available on 50th and Hermitage, Street parking also available

Child Care: Intentional, Trauma Healing, Child Care will be provided by Community Volunteers

Food: Food and drinks provided throughout event. Vegan and Gluten Free Options Available.

For more info contact State Rep Sonya Harper’s office at (773) 925-6580.