McKinley Park News – May 2022 McKinley-UDOS Coalition Newsletter

As the State of Illinois has ended its mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions, we want to continue to advocate for precautionary measures and guidance to help reduce the spread of COVID- 19 through hand washing, social distancing, respiratory etiquette, and regular cleaning and sanitizing. We are currently fully reopened with all programs and services available for in-person and virtual access.

The McKinley Park Underage Drinking & Other Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (McK-UDOS) works to reduce levels of alcohol and marijuana use among youth in McKinley Park. The coalition has just held its bi-monthly meeting and published its May newsletter, published below.

McK-UDOS Coalition Meeting Minutes
When: Thursday, May 12, 2022
Time: 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. via Zoom

Participation: 12 participants

Abigail Torres (MAHA), Joseph Mele (DEA), Carlos Rodriguez (WestCare Illinois), Jessica Casiano (Chicago HIDTA), Marhay Johnson (Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center), Peter Xu (Project Vision), Karina Cordova (Saint Anthony Hospital Community Wellness Program), Kaitie Panka (Youth Outreach), Erin Virgo (Respiratory Health Association), Andrew Piotrowski (MAHA), Allison Precht (MAHA), Lina Xie (MAHA)

I. Reception and icebreaker

II. Presentation – The Seven Challenges by Carlos Rodriguez (WestCare Illinois)

  • Method of Approach to Discussing Substance Use
    • Engage young people with questions to get them to open up and reflect. The ages range from 14 to 18 and up to 21.
  • Examples:
    • Challenge #2 – “what do you like about (insert substance here)?”
    • Challenge #3 – “What are the unintended consequences of using (insert substance here)?”
  • This approach can be implemented in schools or in more private settings (i.e. the home)
  • Currently implemented in 7 alternative schools
  • Those interested in bringing The Seven Challenges to young people can contact Carlos at This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Program updates

  • Nalaxone, an overkill reversal drug, is now available at Chicago Public Libraries through the CDPH on Chicago’s South and West Side
  • The Asian Heritage Month event co-hosted by MAHA and other partner organizations took place on May 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Chinatown Square
  • MAHA has been approved by IDHS Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) for a substance use treatment license
    • MAHA can provide direct treatment support services to clients with substance use disorder
    • MAHA will provide counseling and therapy services to adults and adolescents
    • MAHA is still working to hire qualified addiction counselors
    • More information will be shared with the coalition to promote this service at a later date.

IV. Partner Updates

  • Carlos Rodriguez (WestCare Illinois)
    • WestCare Illinois will be implementing 4Safe at 2 neighborhood festivals this year and more information will be shared at a later date
      • Fiesta del Sol in Pilsen
      • Celebration of 1865 (June 19)
    • Student volunteers will get free festival passes
    • Student volunteers can also get their community service hours for probation or for graduation
    • Activity: They will help identify positive behaviors with the aim of preventing underage alcohol or drug use at festivals
  • Kaitie Panka (Youth Outreach Services)
    • One Summer Chicago (, job opportunities for youth during the summer
    • YOS is looking for placement sites for 100 students in Chicago’s North and West neighborhoods
    • Interested people who want to host or know of sites that want to partner up can contact Kaitie at This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Peter Xu (Project Vision)
    • New member of the coalition: Case Manager of Project Vision
    • Help identify community resources for parents and youth
  • Erin Virgo (Respiratory Health Association)
    • New Coalition Member: RHA Senior Program Manager
    • The ORS focuses on tobacco and lung health, but hopes to broaden the reach of attention and services to more audience groups
  • Marshay Johnson (Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center)
    • CCAC has been approved for a grant that will allow the “walk-in” program for clients to be seen immediately for a one-hour session to provide an assessment to identify further follow-up services



  • Brainstorming activity – What projects should the coalition work on in 2022-2023?
  • This Jamboard will be checked periodically throughout the year
  • Ideas shared:
    • Youth programs, summer activities
    • Resource guide for the community to get information about prevention and treatment services
    • In-person meetings
      • This is something we would like to repeat in the future!
    • Create a weekly newsletter to share updates/events happening in the community

VI. Other announcements

  • Fentanyl test kits are now available for distribution from MAHA. Those interested in picking up test kits and receiving training can contact Andrew at This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Peter Xu
    • Project Vision held an art exhibit at the Springhill Suites (former branch of the Chicago Chinatown Public Library), from 10 p.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday
  • Lina announced her departure from MAHA and McK-UDOS
    • Andrew will take over the McK-UDOS coalition in Lina’s absence

Next meeting – Thursday, July 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.​​​​​​​


Harry L. Blanchard