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Evanston Youth Delegates, EC2C’s Student Advocates team up to support small, local Black businesses.

As the third day of Kwanzaa comes to an end, members of the Black community light the third candle on the Kinara and celebrate the third Kwanzaa principle Ujima, "collective work and responsibility."

So it's a perfect time to highlight the assistance that brother and sister Christophe and Lila Muboyayi will provide to Shannon Sudduth over winter break at her brand new store Noir d'Ebene Chocolat et Patisserie at 1309 Chicago Ave.

Last week, we put out the call for volunteers to help Shannon through what happily turned out to be a very busy holiday season, and Kimberly Holmes-Ross turned to Evanston Cradle to Career's Youth Delegates--of which Christophe and Lila are two.

“I’ll be washing dishes, prepping meals, greeting customers and packaging food," Christophe explains. Whatever I can do to help this small business sustain itself."

Lila says she knows how important it is right now for small business to do well in order to boost the local economy.

In fact, the whole cadre of Youth Delegates has committed to helping small Black businesses during the pandemic.

The Delegates, a group of Evanston Township High School students selected by the City of Evanston's Ald. Robin Rue Simmons and Evanston Cradle to Career, are the first cohort to have attended the National League of Cities Summit (virtual this year) in November.

The Summit is an opportunity for local officials--elected and staff--to learn about the issues affecting local governments and expand their professional network.

And it provided the young attendees inspiration to get more involved in the community, says EC2C's Holmes-Ross.

Since the summit, Youth Delegates have adopted small businesses in Evanston to help them through the pandemic.

-- Nia Dillard is working with Jennifer's Edibles, Inc., at 1623 Simpson Street. She wants people to know that they can order their soul-food favorites from this restaurant, and she's encouraging students to volunteer at the restaurant as owner Jennifer Eason continues to feed Evanston's seniors during the pandemic.

-- Jacoby Blake has adopted Church Street Barbers, 1905 Church Street, which has been in business in the 5th ward for more than 50 years.

“Stop by and get a great haircut, and don’t forget to tip the barbers,” Jacoby says.

-- Elisa Walker has adopted Gabrielle Walker's brand new 4 Suns Fresh Juice store at 1906 Main Street, which prides itself on its Haitian roots and vibe.

“With a great variety of juices and smoothies, what’s a better way to start your day," Elisa says. "Thank you Ms. Gabi for seeing this need and making it happen!”

-- Tiana Jackson- Reka’s adopted business is Crafty Creations and Amariah Bull helps Ms B bakes which offers cookies, cakes, and dessert bars (you can buy them at missb.bakes or at Da Jerk Pit and Herm's Place).

-- Najiah Osborne has adopted C & W Market and Ice Cream Parlor at the corner of Church and Dodge, where you can grab lunch or ice cream, and groceries. C&W has also been providing free groceries twice a week for families during the pandemic since early in the year.

-- Elijah Bull's adopted business is Da Jerk Pit, 2430 Main Street, which is open for lunch and dinner with a variety of menu options. This small business partnered with Our Village: The Black Evanstonian to feed 450 people this past Thanksgiving.

Happy third day of Kwanzaa!

Tomorrow's principle, the fourth, is Ujamaa--cooperative economics: to maintain shops, stores, and other businesses and profit from them together. Often, it seems, the principles of Kwanzaa overlap and support and strengthen one another.

When the pandemic is behind us, we will all need to unite and ensure that downtown Evanston--and surrounding neighborhoods--boasts far more Black- and brown-owned businesses than before Covid-19.

Habari Gani, Evanston!


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