Human Relations Commission Celebrates Women’s History Month

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The Commission on Human Relations hosted a Chit-Chat round table discussion March 16 at the Park Forest Library’s Ringering Room.

Three women, all professionals from different walks of life, shared their personal experiences. The discussion was priceless, as it reinforced the very essence of Women’s History Month. Chairperson Alfreda Keller arranged the Chit-Chat session knowing that the personal stories and triumphs of the three panelists would be inspiring.a

Sherlyn Smith, licensed clinical social worker, Bloom Alternative School in Chicago Heights , arrived in America as a six year old unaccompanied Cuban refugee. Only she and her eight year old sister came to the USA . They went to live with an unknown relative in California . The fast life in California and knowing her parents were still in Cuba laid the groundwork for Ms. Smith to make inappropriate choices. It was through her work with youth, that she overcame her personal challenges and is now focused on addressing access to education for girls in the Nation of Eritrea, formerly part of Northern Ethiopia . She established the Bedrock Foundation which provides scholarships for girls to go to school. Ms. Smith compared the strength of women to the basic properties of the Earth’s bedrock – solid: the foundation to everything on this earth.

Connie Jordan, Attorney at Law, works with the Cook County Public Defender’s office, District 6, Markham Court House. Ms. Jordan , a lifelong Chicagoan, overcame odds to attend college and graduate from Law School . She is committed to defending the rights of indigent clients. Her personal challenge began in adulthood when both of her parents were diagnosed with terminal illness. Ms. Jordan continued to work and provide care for her parents who moved in with her. To keep from being overwhelmed by her parent’s condition, Ms. Jordan developed two talents: making Sister Shirts and making chocolate confections. The pleasure, joy and gratitude shown by the recipients of her labors aided in providing her life’s balance.

Jill DeBardelaben is an artist who reuses and repurposes vintage fabrics to make hats, handbags and satchels. Her work is for sale at the Chicago Heights location of Union Street Gallery. Ms. DeBardelaben was two years old when she lost her natural mother and went to live with a great aunt. The 50-year old aunt raised Ms. DeBardelaben in a small southern Illinois rural community. DeBardelaben’s life’s goals entailed moving to Chicago to achieve her dreams. She gained the poise and sensibility she needed to overcome abuse as a young married mother and divorcee by channeling her energy into artistic expression. She recommends that everyone seek out what it was in their childhoods that they could do for hours on end and make a way for that activity to be a regular outlet.

The next Commission on Human Relations event is April 15. The focus for the month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness. Come to the Library’s Ringering Room at 6 p.m. to learn from Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis how to avoid becoming a victim, surviving this tragedy and how we can support each other. This seminar is free and refreshments will be served.

Sandra Zoellner is Staff Liaison to the Park Forest Commission on Human Relations.