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Loretto Hospital pushing to bridge gap in healthcare disparity

The Loretto Hospital Foundation (LHF) honored Spencer Leak, Sr. and Spencer Leak, Jr., of Leak & Sons Funeral Homes, at its 10th Annual Spirit of Achievement Awards Gala held recently at Galleria Marchetti. The Leaks, known for a decades-long funerary business, were recognized for their outstanding leadership in public service. To date, the Foundation has raised nearly $1 million, but the need for support of health initiatives in the Austin community is greater.

WVON 1690’s Pam Morris-Walton served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, before 200 guests. Those in attendance to bestow congratulations included Rev. Gregory J. Daggett, Secretary of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center Foundation; George Miller, President and CEO of The Loretto Hospital; Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church; TaRon Patterson, Executive Director of the Congo Square Theater Company; Atty. James D. Montgomery Sr., one of the nation’s premier criminal and civil attorneys.

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LORETTO HOSPITAL FOUNDATION chairperson Pauline M. Montgomery gives welcome remarks. More than 200 guests, family and friends attended the Loretto Hospital Foundation Gala. Spencer Leak, Sr. and Spencer Leak, Jr., of Leak & Sons Funeral Homes, were presented the Spirit Achievement Award.

In accepting his award, Spencer Leak, Sr. expressed his sincere gratitude. He said he was blessed to come to this great celebration in his family’s history. “That you would have the audacity to honor Spencer Leak, Jr. and his dad, it is incredible,” he said. “We are overwhelmed…by the fact that the Loretto Hospital would honor us as you have honored us this evening.”

His son, Leak, Jr., shared similar sentiment and thanked the Loretto Hospital Foundation for deeming him worthy of the honor. “Thanks to the Loretto Hospital, all of the Board, the employees. Thank you so very much for honoring us…we appreciate it so much.” Both men were joined at the event by their families and Leak employees, who performed spot–on impersonations of the honorees. The Leaks now join past recipients of the Spirit of Achievement Award including: Tyronne Stoudemire, Les Coney, Earl Jones, Connie L. Lindsey, James D. Montgomery, Timothy & Everett Rand, Pervis Spann, James Reynolds and Abe Thompson.

Leak Funeral Homes was founded in 1938 by pioneering mortician and family patriarch A. R. Leak. Over the years, the Leaks have been on the front lines supporting causes and providing leadership in public service and advocacy for social change. The family has always been involved in the civil rights movements, from working with Dr. King, Jr., leading the march to desegregate Chicago’s Oakwood cemetery, to helping neighborhood churches, grieving families, and paying for utilities and food for struggling neighbors. Today they operate two locations in Chicago and in Country Club Hills, serving 2,000 families per year. A third location will be opening soon on the city’s westside.

George N. Miller, Jr., President/ CEO, Loretto Hospital commented on the disparity in healthcare, saying it is important to provide quality health care to citizens in Austin, “where the life expectancy is only 68.2 years compared to 88 years in downtown Chicago.”

“The Westside has always been an area that’s been neglected,” said Pauline M. Montgomery, Foundation Chair. “The Foundation is the fund raising arm of the hospital. I am very happy to be part of that. It’s a renewed effort to keep the hospital alive and get the kinds of programs that benefit the community.”  The gala is part of a series of efforts to raise funds and garner support for youth, women’s and men’s health services.

On Thursday, July 19, the Community Coalition for Summer Youth Work Experience of the Loretto Youth Healthcare Council Initiative will be holding a “Tribute to Legends” benefit. This concert for youth takes place at the Wire, 6815 Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn, IL at 6 p.m. The event will fund at risk youth’s participation in a six-week summer work program. Tickets are $35 online and $45 at the door.

On Wednesday, August 1, the 18th Annual LHF Golf Outing will be held at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, 12294 Archer Ave. in Lemont, IL.

Loretto Hospital Foundation is set to make substantial advances with access to health resources and youth health from the proceeds of the Gala and the upcoming golf outing. Since its establishment in 2000, the Foundation has developed numerous community outreach health initiatives to support the hospital including but not limited to:

  • breast cancer screenings
  • diabetes screenings
  • men’s health programs & center
  • asthma clinics
  • renovation of ambulatory care clinic
  • patient transportation buses

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