Page 1

Vol. 3, Issue 4


Your Connection Real Talk, Real Issues Real Solutions.



INSIDE: Pg. 3 Your Events Pg. 4 Your Money Have a Felony Start a Business Pg. 5 Community Spotlight Reco's Story “God Saved Me.”

Pg. 9 Your News

Pg. 10 Where we are as a community

Pg. 14 Your Health End Child Abuse


UnityinAction Mag

Unity in Action Magazine is an independent run paper. Views expressed may not be reflective of the publication or others in the publication. P.O. Box 7764 Champaign, IL 61826 Phone: 217-255-3961 Fax/VM 206-203-0380


Monthly Serving East Central Illinois

Summer Fun Is on the Way!

Sunday, May 6 3:30pm – Mass Choir Spring Musical at Greater New Light Missionary Baptist Church (Rantoul): “Sing Praises to God and to His Name” (Psalm 68:4). If you are interested in singing, contact Choir President Bonnie Kelly at 217-202-0384. Friday, May 11 7:00pm –New Foundation Missionary Baptist Church presents Comedy Fellowship 2 – at the Urbana Civic Center (108 Water St., U.). There will be good food, fun and laughter from a Chicago Group as seen on BET. Doors open at 6 p.m. Cost: $20.00. Saturday, May 12 11:00am – 3:00pm – Support Fannie May’s Blood Drive (Neil & Springfield Ave., Ch.) and receive 20% off your purchase. Friday, May 18 DEADLINE to apply for the Youth Police Academy, sponsored by the Champaign Police Department at the ILEAS Training Center (1701 E. Main St., Urbana). Basic session: June 25-28 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm for youth who have completed grades 6th – 8th and the Advanced session: July 9-12 from 9:00am – 3:00pm for youth who are currently high school students & have completed the Basic course prior to submission of application. You do not have to live in Champaign. For more information, contact Officer Jonathan Westfield at 217-4036942 or

PTA will provide the meat and nonmeat options for grilling, families are encouraged to bring a dish to pass. We will have some fun games such as egg/spoon races or threelegged races, and a kickball game. If you are interested in helping out, please contact as soon as you can. Saturday, May 19 8:00am – 10:00am – Listen LIVE to Higher Ground on WEFT/90.1FM Radio or on-line at, hosted by Aaron & Carol Ammons. Listen in and/or call in to 217-359-5483 or 217-3596545 for comments and/or questions. Sunday, May 20 3:00pm – 6:00pm – FREE Community Feast at Windsor Road Christian Church (2501 W. Windsor Rd., Ch. – on the 180 Lime MTD bus line). Register by calling 217232-1969 or at 7:00pm – 10:00pm – Candy Foster Celebrating 50 years in Entertainment at the U of I Foellinger Hall (709 S. Mathews Ave., U. ). For more information, contact Sandy Phillips – 217-6214632 ( ), Gina Russell – 217-560-2341 ( ) or JD Lamb – 217-390-9648 ( ). FREE. Friday, May 25 9:00pm - Illinois Public Media’s Community Cinema Series Film “Hell and Back Again” on WILLTV/Radio (channel 12/channel 13 on Comcast).*

Saturday, May 26 9:00am – 12noon – Church of the Living God presents The Love Clinic at the TLC Annex (310 E. Bradley. Cholesterol and diabetes screenings, health assessment survey, temporary prescription refills (bring medication bottles/no pain medication). Sponsored by Provena Covenant Hospital, Dr. Christina Medrano, Mrs. Wamaitha Sullivan, the Love Corner and Gibson City Memorial Hospital. For more information, call 359-6920. 1:00pm – 2:00pm - Mo’ Betta Music Closing Recital at Salem Baptist Church. Thursday, June 7 7:15pm – Champaign County NAACP Meeting at the Champaign Public Library, Robeson Pavilion Room B. Saturday, June 9 6pm – 6am - American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Champaign County at Centennial High School. For more information or to make a donation, call 217-3569076 or go to the website at . 7:00pm - Second Saturday Men Choirs’ Fellowship – Location to be determined. 9:00pm – JazzStep Entertainment presents 30 & Over Jazz Saturdays in the new addition of the Arrowhead Bowling Lanes (1401 N. McKinley, Ch.). Grown Folks Affair (for those 30 and older). DJ Master Blaster playing R & B, Old School, Jazz and Steppin’ Music. Cost: $5.00.*


Your Money






Citizens with Conviction

Have a Felony? Consider Starting Your Own Business Shanna McGuire, Owner of McGuire Janitorial Services shared her testimony and spoke inspiring words of encouragement to the newly formed Citizens of Conviction group. Shanna McGuire is a successful business owner that employes 30 people, does business not only locally, but on the State and Federal level. She is also a active church Reverend and volunteer. But, her life was not always on this fast track forward. It was going just the opposite. McGuire said her life of crime was based on the need to make money to live. Her first felony was for forging a check. While incarcerated she was accused of scratching a police officer. Instead of arguing the case she accepted another felony charge, so that she could get out of jail. McGuire says, “I was the first person to be featured in The News Gazette's Most Wanted. I have now been featured three times for my business accomplishments.” In her testimony she spoke of the challenges that persons with felonies face trying to live rehabilitated lives after they have done their time. But, she said no matter what don't go back, keep moving forward in a positive direction. McGuire shared advice for the over 2 million Americans with felonies: 1. Stay busy. Keep doing positive things that can help you. 2. Be persistent. Don't just fill out the application and turn it in, follow up several times on the application. 3. Stop complaining. We have to make a way to move forward. We have to deal with the situation we are in the best that we can. 4. Instead of waiting for someone to give you a job, create a job for yourself. Start your business with research. Find out the facts and identify the resources to help you. 5. Be thankful. Though it is hard find thanks in the little things. Thanks to be free. 6. Ask for help. Unity in Action Magazine- 4

Guest Speaker Shanna McGuire Owner of McGuire Janitorial 7. Volunteer. This is a good way to restore your good name in the community. 8. Don't turn around. There are too many good things on the other side. 9. Stand under pressure. 10. Be totally honest on your application. 11. Read the fine print carefully to see if it applies to you.

“Don't give up, don't go back.” For more information on Citizen's with Conviction Email Aaron Ammons:

Free Famous Lemon Shake-Up with the Purchase of a Daily Special. Must Present Coupon at the time of purchase. One Coupon per Order. Exp. May 31st, 2012.

Pg. 5

Your Voice






Regardless of my faults, GOD gave me another chance. Interviewd by Tanya Parker My name is Mardisco “Rico” Staples. As an adult now, I can look back on my life and reflect on some of the things I did and the lessons I learned. And, I can thank God to be alive. I first got in trouble at the age of seven. Without a mother or a father in my life I was hanging out in the streets with my older brother. My first run in with the law was when I broke into a truck and trespass in an abandoned building. I was supposed to come home the next day, but my mother didn't come pick me up. So, I ended up in DCFS, who released me to my grandmother. My grandmother was older. She really couldn't do anything with me. So I ended up in a foster home in Decatur. I was put in an all white school. I felt out of place and alienated, that made me act out. I ended up terrorizing the neighboorhood. As a young boy growing up around drugs and other elements of the streets, I was being taught that I could get more satisfaction in the streets than going to school. When I did focus in schools actually did very well. But, I was skipping schools to go hang out with the older guys in the streets. Then my life took another turn when my uncle died. He was my favorite uncle. I was really hurt and yetI went to the funeral, I didn't cry. Then like two months later, I just burst out crying one day. Just after losing my uncle. I lose my family. I can remember the caseworker telling my brother; if I didn't do better they were going to take me away. But, they didn't come around too often, so I didn't take it seriously. Then one day, when I was 10 yrs. old DCFS decided to move me to Chicago. They took me to a group home. I did not want to go. I can remember feeling alienated again. I was feeling like they got me way up here, and there is no way that I can get home to see my family. It was like a year before I got to see my family again. It was a coed group home. So naturally at the age of 10 the guys and the girls started liking each other. Many of the kids used to run away together. My best friend was, Tony Sned he got kicked out group home. Once again I had lost contact with someone close to me. This hurt. Life in the Chicago's group home was hard. There were gangs all around the group home. Every time I had to walk out our front door I had to face gangs. It was impossible to ignore them. One time I was coming in from a weekend pass. I was getting off the L train. I had my hat turned the wrong way and I didn't pay attention to the fact that I was in the Latin King's area. Then, a group of people can up to me to fight. So, I said that next time I go home I needed to carry a gun to protect myself.

Life in the Chicago's group home was hard. There were gangs all around the group home. Every time I had to walk out our front door I had to face gangs. It was impossible to ignore them. One time I was coming in from a weekend pass. I was getting off the L train. I had my hat turned the wrong way and I didn't pay attention to the fact that I was in the Latin King's area. Then, a group of people can up to me to fight. So, I said that next time I go home I needed to carry a gun to protect myself. The next time I went home I did in fact come back with a gun, and I showed it to someone. I got called into the administration office and questioned about the gun. They ended up calling my case manager to pick me up. I had to leave this group home. I came home in the 90's – I started getting off into a lot of things. When I think back, I think that it is pretty amazing that I am still alive. I thought being back home that things would get better, but it got completely worse. I started carrying guns. People started shooting at me and I started shooting at them. Around then I got charged with unlawful discharge of a fire arm and sentenced to St. Charles juvenile prison. Then, I got into more trouble while incarcerated. One day I got into a fight over a mop bucket. Being taught from my brother, I learned that if someone messes with you while in prison you have to stand up for yourself. I was locked up in the hole for 9 months. When I got out they sent me to Valleyview where more trouble followed. My 3 mth. sentenced then it turned into three years. After getting in a fight. When released, I was sent to an independent living home in Springfield. There was a lot of opportunities for me to get a job. I misused all of the opportunities laid out in front of me. I ended up getting into a gang fight, so I had to leave from the independent living home and ended up going back to Decatur. While in Decatur I received a parole violation for drugs then I had to go back into juvenile prison, until I was too old to stay at the age of 19yrs.old. By then, DCFS didn't want anything else to do with me.

REGARDLESS OF WHAT I HAD DONE WRONG, GOD SAW ME WORTHY TO SAVE MY LIFE. God saved me from dying in a car major car accident. One day while driving on Bradley, doing about 80 mi. I accidentally threw the car into reverse, the car started flipping. I was trying to get under the dashboard, but I couldn't. Then suddenly, I saw a bright light. It looked like I was looking into a tunnel. I couldn't even see my friends that were right next me. After the accident, I am so glad that I didn't get under the dashboard. The backseat was all the way in the front. It was a miracle that everyone was ok. Continue pg. 6 Unity in Action Magazine- 5

Pg. 6

Your Voice

Continue, pg. 5 WHAT I LEARNED AND WHAT ADVICE I WOULD GIVE As a young child, I was a product of negative influences with no parental figure to help steer me in another direction. I was also filled with the pain of always losing people that were close to me. However, I have to admit that I didn't want to change, so I did not take advantage of the opportunities that I had.






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I would advise a child growing up in a negative environment to try to be better than what your environment is trying to make me you be. As a foster child, if I was in that situation now, I would have taken advantage of those opportunities. Being a foster child is not always bad. My advise to a foster child is to focus on being the best that you can be in your life. Now, I pray to GOD for help everyday. You don't have to go to church to have personal relationship with GOD. He has made me stronger. I no longer sell drugs. I believe that if I can just keep moving forward I will get there. Now I spend a lot more time with my family. And enjoy the simple things in life. I am now taking classes for ex-cons to help me escape the prison within. You can still be trapped mentally in prison. I now set short term to long term goals. I have matured and become more patient. I take time to rationalize my actions to consider whether or not something is worth me doing. I want to help troubled teens get their mind right. I don't want any child to go through what pain I went through. If you are an adult that wants to help a troubled teen my advice is to be a life long friend that is willing to forgive and still love that child, just like GOD loves us.

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Learn about fitness & health! Build character! Learn cheer dance routines! Gain performing experience! Be a community leader! Make new friends! HAVE FUN THIS SUMMER!

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Pg. 12

CLUB FREESTYLE What are you doing this summer? Learning about video taping and editing.

Make movies. Make TV SHOWS. Acting. Learning about entertainment careers.

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FASHION DESIGN CAMP AGES 10-17 Wednesday's 6-weeks June 13th - July 25th Group A: 12-2p Group B: Fee: $150

Pg. 4

URBAN PREP ACADEMY IN CHICAGO DOES IT AGAIN! Chicago's All-African American male Urban Prep Academy has done it again. All of their graduation seniors have been accepted into 4-year colleges for the 3rd year in a row. CHINA TOOTHPASTE POISONS PRISONERS IN USA Recalls of major brands like Colgate Fluoride Toothpaste Maximum Cavity Protection have found to have high level of poisons. U.S.A. citizens especially prisoners have been affected for years. The products were found to contain high levels of potentially harmful bacteria that could potentially pose significant health risks, especially to children and individuals with compromised immune systems. THE OVER $46 MILLION PEOPLE IN AMERICA LIVING IN POVERTY STRUGGLE TO MAKE ENDS MEET. According to the US Census Data, The nation's official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ─ the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. There were 46.2

million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.

2012 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia Persons in family/household Poverty guideline 1 $11,170 2 15,130 3 19,090 4 23,050 5 27,010 6 30,970

REALITY OF THE BUDGET $15,130 (Before Taxes) Monthly Expenses for a single parent of one child. @$1100 per month - $550 Rent (You can rarely find a place cheaper. Cost are rising as Champaign caters to students instead of families.) - $200 Power/Gas (Up 40%) - $80 (Water) - $60 Car Insurance - $200 Gas in Car (Whether you have a car or not, you end up paying other people gas money for rides. - $160 Cable/Internet/Phone - $400 Food (Felons in some states cannot get Food Stamps.) Result short on money, short on time to pay bills.

GET TWO YEARS OF COLLEGETUITION/FEE FREE! Parkland College Academic Opportunity Scholarships for Under-represented Students Full merit scholarships (not based on economic need or family income) are being offered to high school seniors from Parkland College District 505 (includes parts of Champaign, Coles, Dewitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, Mclean, Moultrie, Pratt, and Vermilion counties). Who can apply? ● Students from an underrepresented ethnic or racial group at Parkland ● Females interested in a male-dominated degree/career field (US Dept of Labor) ● Males interested in a female-dominated degree/field (US Dept of Labor) ● Those (above) with a 3.0 GPA or higher at time of application APPLICATION DEADLINE May 18, 2012! Ask your high school counselor for the application. Apply today and save BIG $$ for college! Questions: Haiti Eastin Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Services Parkland College 217/351-2563 or

LAW CORNER 1) Illinois Law is everyone in the car must wear a seat belt. 2) You have to slow down when you see construction, the camera's are ON. You can face $1000 fine or jail time. 3) Look up! Police departments and other first responders will be using drones or remote controlled aircraft to assist with duties like: patrolling and searching.

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We Have to Remember Where We Came From, To Understand Where We Are & What can we do to build our future? Where we came from? We have to face the concern with police brutality and inadequate representation for defendants during trial. The warnings have been there that African-American communities need support. By 2000, roughly one in 10 black men were in prison - a crisis level statistic because prisoners don't have jobs, pay taxes. And because many states bar felons from voting, at least one in seven black men will have lost the right to vote. "These numbers are staggering," said Laurie Levensen, a former federal prosecutor and associate dean of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "We're incarcerating an entire generation of people." The War on Drugs was a social and economic war. Our government went to war with no recovery plan for the people affected by the war. The reality is the US government helped start the war, by putting drugs in our community. This is a fact. Every since the start of the War on Drugs, we have watched the AfricanAmerican community remain in crisis level in poverty, prison, and education. Yet, our nation has not taken a stand against police brutality or racism in the employment, education, and justice system. As we see the numbers, we have to think about the affect on the community left behind. What concerns do we see TODAY? Nearly every black person knows someone in their family or support system affected by the justice system. Children suffering from trauma and emotional distress. Extreme financial burden on the family left behind. Especially, if they were the supporter. ● More non-traditional family structures. More children in the foster system, who may end up with other family or friends. ● African-Americans have lost the RIGHT TO VOTE due to a felony. In some states, you lose the right forever. In other states, you have to purse the right after as much as 2 years after release. ● ●

High long-term unemployment. Unemployment dropped for all races; except Black people. Most likely due to the felony question on the general job application. ● Concerning rates of racism and unfair treatment still exists today in our justice system. ● A large percentage of men recently released that were incarcerated for over 15 years have to re-adjust to life. ● A high percentage of women to the number of men within a community. ●

In addition, we are left with a community of people that do not trust the justice system. The new stories of injustice are whispered in the African-American community everyday. The common feeling is that there is no where to turn for justice, especially if you are living in poverty and can't afford an attorney. What can we do to build our future? ● Increase mental health support to the African community. ● Address the issue with felonies and employment on a national level. ● Take a stand against judicial injustice in your community and in the nation. ● Offer more financial education. ● Prison reform to be more supportive to rehabilitation and family support systems. ● Do not support spending cuts for social service programs. More support for mental health, reentry prevention, career education, and homelessness programs.

CHANGE YOUR COMMUNITY: Despite decline in bed use at Champaign County Jail. Proposal offered is to build a new jail. Despite agreeing 10 yrs. ago not to rebuild the jail, but to invest in prevention. To protest contact the Champaign County Board

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Pg. 13

Your Health







Here are some actions you can take to help children and their parents. Shared by SOFTT (Saving Our Families Together Today) Unrealistic expectations of parenthood, differences between what we want and what we actually have, a strained relationship with our marriage partner, too much to do and too little time, financial problems, drug abuse, alcoholism, and a history of being abused as a child are examples of problems that can cause parents to take out anger and frustration on their children. Even very loving parents can lose control to the point of child abuse. Here are some actions you can take to help children and their parents. 1. Be a good example. Respect your family members. Use a courteous tone of voice with them. When children misbehave, let them know that you dislike what they did, not who they are. Don't hit your kids; violence teaches violence. Apologize when you're wrong. Say "I love you" more often. Reward good behavior. . 2. Reach out to neighbors or relatives with children. Offer to babysit to give them a much-needed break. 3. Praise and encourage the children you know. Mean words can make a child feel worthless, ugly, and unloved, and the hurt can last a lifetime. So be positive. Tell a child you're proud of her and why. Stick up for her; don't let others tease or make fun of her. Smile. Let her know she is important to you. Say, "You're terrific. I like you!" 4. Take action...don't wait for someone else to do it! Arrange for a speaker on child abuse and neglect to come to your PTA, church, club, or workplace. The more we all know about abuse and neglect, the more we can do to stop it. 5. Organize safety systems for your neighborhood. Arrange for neighbors who are at home most of the day to watch out for children on their way to and from school. Set up "safe houses" where children can go if they feel threatened or afraid. Participate in a telephone network for neighborhood children who are home alone after school and need help, advice, or reassurance. 6. Volunteer. Volunteer your time in a child crisis shelter, parenting support program, drug abuse prevention or treatment program, or shelter for the homeless. 7. Set up an after-school-hours program at a retirement home. It's hard to tell who benefits more from such an arrangement, the children or the elders.

8. Form a Carpenters Guild. Work with others in your church, club, or workplace to repair homes of disadvantaged families to make them more livable for children. 9. Host a baby shower. Invite friends and neighbors to bring items for needy infants and children. 10. Work in a day-care center. Volunteer your time in a day-care center that serves abused and neglected children. Work with your church, club, or organization to form a partnership with a child-care center that serves low-income children. 11. Be a mentor. Help a pregnant teen-ager learn parenting skills. Or be a mentor to a pre-teen through one of the school mentoring programs. 12. Learn more about child abuse and child abuse prevention. Teach others. Plan an adult education program in your church, club, or organization to inform people about children's needs. Open your group's facility to local education programs for parents. 13. Become a foster parent. It's not an easy job, but the rewards are great when you help a child learn what it feels like to be safe. . 14. Report suspected child abuse and neglect. Call 1-800-252-2873 or your local law enforcement agency if you think a child is being neglected, sexually abused, or physically or emotionally abused. Children are hardly ever abused only once. If you suspect it, you must report it. That's the law. Reporting suspected child abuse makes it possible for a family to get help. We are asking that you do something proactive to help children and keep them safe. If you are on Facebook – please “like” the page “Saving Our Families Together Today (SOFTT)” and become a part of the solution in Champaign County. Saving Our Families Together Today

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May Vol. 3 Issue 4  

Have a Felon? Start a business. Community Events SOFTT shares a message on child abuse

May Vol. 3 Issue 4  

Have a Felon? Start a business. Community Events SOFTT shares a message on child abuse