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The Adelante Community Health Center has expanded its community outreach through an Adventist Community Services (ACS) Treasure Hunt Thrift Store. Adelante (the Spanish version of NEWSTART) promotes—agua (water), descanso (rest), ejercicio (exercise), luz solar (sunlight), aire puro (clean air), nutricion (nutrition), temperancia (temperance), and esperanza en Dios (hope in God). | Photos by Sandra Mendez

November 18, 2020

Chicago area Urban Center of Influence expands ministry; honors slain pregnant teen

In April of 2019, Marlen Ochoa-Uriostegui, a South Shore Spanish Church member, was murdered in Chicago while trying to obtain clothes and items for her then-unborn baby. At a community-wide memorial service, her father, Arnulfo, called for the community to supply the needs of poor and to 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 of Influence in the Lake Union, has been able to help do just that through the Adventist Community Services (ACS) Treasure Hunt Thrift Store, established in memory of Ochoa-Uriostegui.

Since opening its doors in May 2017, Manuel Alva, a gastroenterologist and vice president of the Adelante Community Health Center, explains that in addition to the thrift store, they educate and serve 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 of their community members were baptized in June.

Erecting new signage brings challenges and opportunities

The store is located along a busy stretch of the historic US Route 66 thoroughfare and it was hoped that a street sign would help draw in additional people. A portion of the 2019 Lake Union ASI offering helped purchase an electric street sign that was prepared by a neighboring business owner.

When it came time to put it up, the sign-maker could not obtain a permit from the city 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 previously denied work to be done on the property. In hopes of moving the project along, the sign-maker was contacted. However, even after multiple attempts, he could not be reached. Finally, one day, his wife answered the phone and delivered the news. The sign-maker had passed away just two months before the pandemic began.

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

In October, authorization to erect the sign up was finally received. 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, they are more than happy to explain the eight natural remedies that Adelante (the Spanish version of NEWSTART) promotes—agua (water), descanso (rest), ejercicio (exercise), luz solar (sunlight), aire puro (clean air), nutricion (nutrition), temperancia (temperance), and esperanza en Dios (hope in God).

Kathleen Morrissy, Lake Union Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) Communication director