Suburban Mosaic: Former Reflejos editor was 'terrific team member'

  • Former Reflejos content editor Marco Ortiz and his wife, Perla.

    Former Reflejos content editor Marco Ortiz and his wife, Perla. Courtesy of Denisse Garcher, 2017

  • The Ortiz family, from left: Rachel and Miguel Ortiz, Marco Ortiz and wife Perla, Susana Ortiz, Denisse and Jeremy Garcher.

    The Ortiz family, from left: Rachel and Miguel Ortiz, Marco Ortiz and wife Perla, Susana Ortiz, Denisse and Jeremy Garcher. Courtesy of Denisse Garcher

  • Stevenson High School junior Aminah Syed received the Helping Hand Award from the UMMA Center for collecting $5,000 for refugee resettlement.

    Stevenson High School junior Aminah Syed received the Helping Hand Award from the UMMA Center for collecting $5,000 for refugee resettlement. Courtesy of CIOGC

  • Aminah Syed

    Aminah Syed

  • Laotian-American author Niphaphone "Laura" Robertson will talk about the inspiration for her memoir, "Forty Dollars and a Dream," from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.

    Laotian-American author Niphaphone "Laura" Robertson will talk about the inspiration for her memoir, "Forty Dollars and a Dream," from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin. Courtesy of Niphaphone Robertson

  • Laotian-American author Niphaphone "Laura" Robertson will talk about the inspiration for her memoir, "Forty Dollars and a Dream," from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.

    Laotian-American author Niphaphone "Laura" Robertson will talk about the inspiration for her memoir, "Forty Dollars and a Dream," from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin. Courtesy of Niphaphone Robertson

 
 
Updated 5/23/2022 12:03 PM

"One lives in the hope of becoming a memory." -- Antonio Porchia, 19th century Italian poet.

I chose to begin today's column with this quote to recognize the passing of Marco Ortiz of Lake in the Hills -- a poet, a loving father and husband, an avid community volunteer and a trusted colleague.

 

He was diagnosed in December with cholangiocarcinoma -- a rare and aggressive bile-duct cancer -- and died May 6 at age 60.

Ortiz was a bilingual teaching assistant with Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 before becoming a Spanish language translator for Reflejos, the Daily Herald's sister bilingual publication.

He served suburban Hispanic communities for 17 years until 2017 through his work as content editor for the weekly newsmagazine published by Paddock Publications/Daily Herald Media Group. Ortiz won several national awards at Reflejos. He also wrote guest columns for the Daily Herald.

Until recently, Ortiz was a translator for Reflejos and worked with Centro de Información in Elgin to help Latino immigrants.

"He wanted to help as much as he could for those that were trying to obtain citizenship and fix their legal status," said his youngest daughter, Denisse Garcher of Lake in the Hills.

Ortiz came to the United States from Peru in 1994 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006. He spent many years working through a lengthy immigration process to bring his wife, Perla, and children -- Susana, Miguel and Denisse -- here.

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"He was very humble and so very grateful for the opportunities the U.S. offered him and his family, thrilled when he could use email to connect every day as his family remained in Peru," said Linda Siete, Reflejos sales and operations manager who worked with Ortiz for 21 years. "He was a terrific team member to all of us ... he had a joy for life and shared that joy with each of us over the years."

Help Ortiz family

Ortiz was a devoted family man to his wife of 35 years and children, Garcher said.

He also was an avid writer/photographer and animal lover, who enjoyed soccer, history, and loved teaching people about the Bible. He had been involved in community service since age 18, she said.

"He was a poet at heart," Garcher said. "He was always smiling even through trials."

One of Ortiz's poems was posted at his funeral May 14.

Ortiz strove to be an inspiration for his children: Susana Ortiz, 36, of Chicago, a biologist; Miguel Ortiz, 34, of Cary, a fire alarm inspector; and Garcher, 31, who graduated from Harper College Saturday as a web developer/programmer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"To me, he was always my compass in life," Garcher said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses related to Ortiz's cancer treatment. So far, about $6,800 has been raised toward a $25,000 goal. To donate, visit bit.ly/3aeR4oj.

Tutors sought

The Mecca Center in Willowbrook and Wheaton-based People's Resource Center are partnering to offer free adult tutoring services at the mosque.

Since 1975, the People's Resource Center has brought volunteers together to respond to hunger and poverty in DuPage County. Nearly 26,000 DuPage residents rely on the center for food and other basic necessities, such as clothing and rental assistance yearly. The center's team of more than 2,600 volunteers connect people in need with community resources, including education, tutoring, and jobs.

Tutoring will focus on English and English as a Second Language. Sessions are held weekly and training and curriculum is provided. Teaching experience is not required.

Anyone interested in joining the PRC Volunteer Tutor Team can learn more by contacting Anum Abdullah at aabdullah@peoplesrc.org.

Refugee aid

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and Urban Muslim Minority Alliance (UMMA) Center are teaming up to help Afghan refugees transition into longer-term housing.

The 90-day temporary housing period for many Afghan refugees has ended and those families now are seeking longer-term housing, CIOGC Chairman Irshad Khan said.

Securing housing is a challenge for Afghan refugees who lack credit histories, bank accounts, lines of credit, and funds.

UMMA Center has collected $92,000 to help them with housing needs.

Center Executive Director Robert Montgomery said Afghan refugees looking for work and trying to establish themselves financially face language barriers, among other challenges.

Muslim community members, mosques and service centers stepped up efforts during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to collect and donate to Afghan refugees in the Chicago area.

The UMMA Center presented a Helping Hand Award last week to Aminah Syed, a junior at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, who collected $5,000 to help with refugee resettlement.

Gospel music museum

Chicago could become the future home of the National Museum of Gospel Music.

That's if a funding request by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who represents Illinois' 1st Congressional District, is approved by the House Committee on Appropriations.

Rush is seeking $500,000 to support a multiphase, adaptive reuse construction project at Pilgrim Baptist Church, a local and national landmark at 3301 S. Indiana Ave.

The project would preserve the church's historical and cultural impact by developing the first major institution dedicated to the legacy and influence of gospel music, Rush said in a news release.

The museum would highlight the history and impact of gospel music and its contributions to American music culture through exhibitions and programs. The project includes work on the historic limestone walls and other structural elements required to enclose the building.

Lao author talk

Laotian-American author Niphaphone "Laura" Robertson will talk about the inspiration for her memoir, "Forty Dollars and a Dream," from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.

The program is part of the library's celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

In the book, Robertson chronicles her family's inspirational journey, from escaping war and communist rule to surviving in a refugee camp and later coming to America to make a home in Elgin.

Register for the session at bit.ly/3aeLDWs.

A special preview of "Untold stories of Lao Refugee Women" also will be showcased.

Senior services

AgeGuide Northeastern Illinois is conducting virtual public hearings Thursday and Friday on its proposed Fiscal Year 22-24 Area Plan for older adults in its eight-county service area, including DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

Public comments are sought on AgeGuide's proposed services, delivery, expenditures and activities as outlined in the area plan.

View an electronic copy of the Public Information Document at bit.ly/3PrvywC.

Register for the hearings at AgeGuide.org/events.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

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