Janie’s Fair held at Mason Park on Sept. 11. Pictured l to r, Kimberly Holmes-Ross, consultant, Khaliliah Miles, Trudyann Smith, Paulina Castillo, Tatyana Young, Rebecca Parmet, Café Manager at Curt’s Café South, and Djorgy Leroy, Social Services Director for Curt’s Café.Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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Mason Park, Church Street at Florence Avenue, was the site for Janie’s Fair, where representatives of social service and support agencies showcased their resources that support Evanston’s young parents and their families. The fair, held Sept. 11, was an afternoon of friends, food and community resources to provide support to young parents and their families dealing with life’s challenges, said Kimberly Holmes-Ross, one of the fair’s organizers.

The “Janie” of the fair is a hypothetical 16-year-old girl who has a 1-year-old child and is pregnant with another. A high-school dropout, she struggles with reading. She lives with her mother and younger siblings; her father is not in the picture. She is in an abusive relationship with the babies’ father. She is often hungry and is not linked to any services.

The group of community leaders that came together to put on this fair was called ‘Team Janie’ whose members include Teeneka Jones, Laura Altolin, Katina Warr, Kelli Nelson, Dickelle Fonda, Karen Thompson, Enjoli Daley, Aretha Barnes, Candance Ausrin, Delores Holmes, Felicia Hunter, Rhana Jarels and Kim Holmes-Ross.

Ms. Holmes-Ross, in an email to the RoundTable wrote, “Our hope is that Team Janie continues to connect the right resource to the right family. This can only be done if we are all aware of what services our community is providing.”

This past summer Ms. Holmes-Ross served as a consultant for Curt’s Café, helping develop the social services division of the program and connecting Curt’s to resources. She said she came up with the fair concept and found “great” individuals to help her pull it together. Everything was built around Curt’s Café, including the graduates, she said.

Ms. Margaret Fiorio, assistant manager at Curt’s Café South explained that the first graduates completed a 90-day training program in June. The young women pictured are the first graduates of the program. Ms. Fiorio said that as of Sept. 18, there are about 12 young women in the next class which will graduate mid- to-late-October.

Janie’s Fair was hosted by Curt’s Café South, 1813 Dempster St. Founded by Susan Trieschmann, the café trains young people, teen mothers and at-risk young women in food-service and life skills to prepare them for good jobs and parenting.

The following community organizations were represented at the fair:

Childcare Network of Evanston; City of Evanston General Assistance and Human Services; Connections for the Homeless; Dental Art Specialists; District 65 Family Center; Evanston Police Department Youth Services; Family Focus; Howard Area Community Center; Infant Welfare Society of Evanston; James B. Moran Center; Literature for All of Us; Metropolitan Family Services; Northwest Coalition Against Sexual Assault NWCASA; Open Studio Project; Our House; and YWCA Evanston/North Shore.