April, 2014 Archives

Remembering…

April 27th, 2014 Permalink

these two little girls I photographed at the Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue in 2010. This is the oldest and largest Holocaust memorial service in the Midwest and one of the largest in the United States.   After seeing that it was Holocaust Memorial Day today, I couldn’t get these girls out of my head and [...]

these two little girls I photographed at the Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue in 2010. This is the oldest and largest Holocaust memorial service in the
Midwest and one of the largest in the United States.   After seeing that it was Holocaust Memorial Day today, I couldn’t get these girls out of my head and wondered if I still even had the photo.  After digging through old folders and files I’m glad I found it.   It’s bad enough reading about all of the people I didn’t know that were killed in the Holocaust, all I have to do is think of my beautiful Jewish sister-in-law, her family, and my many Jewish friends being loaded onto a train bound for Auschwitz and well, I’ll never forget.

Job “Fair” ?

April 19th, 2014 Permalink

As a social worker and later as a photographer, I entered schools and homes in just about every demographic of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.  From the South Side to the North Side, I feel like I saw it all.  Every place had its benefits and drawbacks and there were many times I’d leave wanting [...]

As a social worker and later as a photographer, I entered schools and homes in just about every demographic of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.  From the South Side to the North Side, I feel like I saw it all.  Every place had its benefits and drawbacks and there were many times I’d leave wanting to live in the more economically challenged neighborhoods because of the people that lived there and the sense of community that outsiders don’t usually see or experience.  One thing my co-workers at the newspaper can attest to is my outrage when I would come back after covering high school job fairs in different neighborhoods.  They’d always say, “Do a project on it!”

Let’s just put it this way – the job fairs on the North Side not only had variety of job opportunities, but they were filled with mentors.  Parents, the friends of parents and other local families were there to offer internships and job opportunities in architecture, law, medicine, business….and the list goes on.  The job fair on the South Side?  The best thing there was the Army and Fed Ex.  Balloons were plenty, but opportunities and mentors were nil.  I remember a few days later, I was sent to cover a child on the North Side who set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for Tsunami victims.  Cute, nice, great.  I watched neighbors get out of their expensive cars and come over to gush and give money. Deep down I’d be thinking, ” I’d be more impressed if you all just got back in those cars and drove across town to offer your time.”    Cynical and judgmental?  Perhaps.  And hey, maybe they did,  but for some reason I never covered it or saw it.

I tried to do my own project on the disparity, but it was shut down by a high school on the West Side because they suspected something.   After moving to Seattle, I found JUMA while searching for organizations that helped high school students in economically disadvantaged communities.   They mentor and help high school students with employment, job skills and academics.  After doing a shoot for them, I decided to follow one student to his job at Safeco Field as a vendor.  Carliss (CJ) Bussey is a student at Franklin High School in Mt. Baker.  He’s an outstanding basketball player, student, and one of the hardest workers I’ve seen.  Last week I followed him from the end of his day, to his basketball “workout” (the season is over but he still plays), to his home, then to Safeco Field, and back home again.

It was exhausting,  and I didn’t even have to get up for school the next day, so I can’t imagine how he felt!  All I have to say is that this kid is an example of what JUMA can do for students.   Not only was he managing all of his business and work affairs with ease,  but you could tell he had unbelievable social skills and an independence/ responsibility you don’t see in a lot of teenagers.  He was greeted by random people at the train station and on the train. They’d yell out “CJ!” and then they would embrace.  At the end of the game, he gave part of his tips to a musician and he told me, “Oh yeah, I always try to give something away to them on the way out.”   I could tell that this was not for my benefit.  At the end of the day, he walked up the stairs to his father’s home and turned around and said, “Thank you Suzanne.”   But  JUMA is the one to thank.  Don’t thank me until I walk the talk and become a mentor myself  ( which will be happening by summer).

- I will be producing a short multimedia presentation on CJ in the next few weeks.   CJ will be making a decision on college and which team he will play for.

- If you are ever at Safeco Field, or any ballgames in New Orleans, San Diego, San Francisco or New York make sure you buy something from these kids and support this great organization.