Joe Maddon steps up for immigrants in his Pennsylvania hometown

December 18, 2017

By Michael Sneed | Chicago Sun Times

Hey! Hey!

It’s Maddon magic!

Sneed hears Cubs manager Joe Maddon and his wife, Jaye, were in the heart of Trump country this past week doing God’s work!

• Translation: Maddon and his missus were visiting his small, working-class hometown — Hazleton, Pa., to embrace the immigrants there in need of support — and raise money to help them out.

“I just got back from Hazleton and saw the amazing work Joe and his wife, Jaye, are doing in his hometown,” said Sneed’s old pal, CNN stellar David Axelrod.

“The town has seen rapid demographic changes with a heavy influx of Dominican immigrants, and Joe has been really concerned about all the animus being whipped up about immigration,” said Axelrod.

“So he decided to help by launching the Hazleton Integration Project, to welcome the immigrant community and ease tensions in town,” said Axelrod.

OPINION

So why is Maddon so invested in the project?

“Joe, who already helped build a new community center there, said he wants to help because he relates to their problems.

“Joe is half-Polish and half-Italian, and he told me: “I go into homes and these families are just like mine was growing up. We ought to be embracing them and appreciating what diversity brings to the community,” said Axelrod.

And Sneed bets a little baseball played by little Dominican athletes will be tossed into the mix!

Amen and play ball!

A love note . . . 

When Sneed asked media icons Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra whether they were going on a honeymoon after finally tying the knot after a 40-year relationship — LaPietra said: “No. Why go on a honeymoon, when we’ve been on one for 40 years?”

Got it.

Flame game . . . 

The Eternal Flame of Hope, honoring the birth of the Special Olympics in 1968, will be dedicated on its July 20 birthday next year near the north end of Soldier Field. The sculpture was commissioned to Chicago native Richard Hunt.

“That was where the first game was held,” said Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke — who founded the movement which is now in 172 countries worldwide.

Oh, holy night!

Cardinal Blase Cupich will celebrate Midnight Mass on Christmas at Holy Name Cathedral. The Very Rev. Greg Sakowicz, rector of the parish, will provide religious commentary on WGN-TV for the 33rd consecutive year for viewers unable to attend the packed church.

Mamma mia!

It’s all in the family: Gina Stefani, who opened MAD Social on Madison in the West Loop last year, is assisting her brother, Anthony, who recently opened Bar Cargo at Ohio and Wells Streets in River North. Dad Phil Stefani can usually be spotted supervising his mega restaurant cartel at his legendary Tuscany eatery, and wife Karen is owner of Inspired Catering and Events.

First ladies rule!

Chicago first lady Amy Rule isn’t the only first lady in Chicago.

In fact, Amy — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s quieter and calmer half — has brought together a network of  “first ladies” from across the city’s south and west sides.

“They are women she considers her peers,” said a mayoral aide, a group of pastors’ wives and female pastors, who get together informally to address the needs of their congregations to bring more services to their community — and which was the catalyst for the First Ladies Health Initiative this summer.

Stay tuned.


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