November 21, 2020

Chicago Urban Center Expands Ministry to Reach More People

Kathleen Morrissy, for Lake Union Herald

In April 2019, Marlen Ochoa Uriostegui, a South Shore Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church member in Chicago, Illinois, United States, was murdered while trying to obtain clothes and items for her then-unborn baby. At a community-wide memorial service, her father, Arnulfo Ochoa, called for the community to supply for the needs of the poor and help struggling moms-to-be with clothes, supplies, emotional care, and other necessities.

The Adelante Community Health Center in Berwyn, Illinois, one of the first urban centers in the Lake Union church region, has been able to help do just that through the Adventist Community Services (ACS) Treasure Hunt Thrift Store, established in memory of Ochoa Uriostegui.

The center opened its doors in May 2017, and Manuel Alva, a gastroenterologist and vice president of the Adelante Community Health Center, explains that in addition to the thrift store itself, the center serves the community through health education, cooking classes, psychological support, and a medical clinic. The center hosts weekly worship programs and nutrition classes, as well as monthly cooking classes. Massage therapy sessions are offered during the week, and the medical clinic treats patients four days a week. As a result of these services and activities, three community members were baptized in June 2020.

New Signage Brings Challenges and Opportunities

The store is located along a busy stretch of the historic US Route 66 thoroughfare, and leaders hoped that a street sign would help draw in additional people. A portion of the 2019 Lake Union Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) offering helped purchase an electric street sign prepared by a neighboring business owner.

The new thrift store Berwyn, Illinois, United States, was dedicated to the memory of slain pregnant teenager Marlen Ochoa Uriostegui. [Photo: Sandra Mendez]

When it came time to put up the sign, the sign-maker could not obtain a city permit for installation. The Adelante community started praying. While the sign-maker tried several more times to obtain a permit, the ministry remained active.

When the pandemic hit, the store was forced to close, but the city began allowing work to be done on the property that had previously been denied. In hopes of moving the project along, ministry leaders attempted several times to contact the sign-maker. Finally, one day, the man’s wife answered the phone and said the sign-maker had died two months before the pandemic began.

But, as providence would have it, the man had finished the sign and stored it in a nearby warehouse. His widow had to wait to obtain permission from the warehouse owner to take the Adelante sign. She transferred the installation work to another sign-maker. That man became friends with the Adelante staff and is now using their lifestyle education materials. Both the widow and the second sign-maker recognized the good motive behind Adelante’s concept.

In October 2020, authorization to erect the sign finally arrived. Shortly after the installation, one staff member noted, “Our sign has been up for less than three weeks and has brought new friends and multiple questions about what Adelante is all about.” When questions arise, the staff are happy to explain the meaning of Adelante. The letters of the Spanish word stand for the eight natural remedies — agua (water), descanso (rest), ejercicio (exercise), luz solar (sunlight), aire puro (clean air), nutrición (nutrition), temperancia (temperance), and esperanza en Dios (hope in God).

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald.