Amanda Alvarez-Calo remains committed to her East End neighborhood and the strong relationships she has there, even as her life undergoes a drastic change and a friend tries to convince her. ordered her to move further north.
Alvarez-Calo was in the midst of a divorce from her husband when Kate Garza – her longtime friend – was excited to help her start a “new chapter” – asking her to move to the North Side, closer to her.
“She said, ‘I don’t know, I just love being part of the East Side community. Everyone knows each other and I love the idea of my kids growing up in this close-knit community,” Garza recalls her saying.
“She’s really proud to be here and really wants to continue that,” Garza said.
That was the last time they spoke together.
Alvarez-Calo was shot dead by her then-husband who took his own life earlier this week. Authorities said their bodies were found in a parked car in the East End, about 2 miles from where she teaches preschool.
A passerby found them around 1:40 p.m. Monday in the 11000 block of South South Avenue, according to Illinois State Police. One weapon was recovered at the scene.
The husband, state trooper Antonio Alvarez, 30, died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He is a three-year veteran with the state police.
Alvarez-Calo, 31, also died from a gunshot wound to the head. Her death is considered a homicide.
“She was the most wonderful young woman,” said her godmother, Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th), said. “Her laughter is contagious.”
Sadlowski-Garza’s two children, Kate Garza and Tyler Garza, have been friends with Alvarez-Calo since they were in third grade at Jane Addams Elementary School, located at 108th and Avenue H.
They were so close, she called them “The Three Musketeers”.
“Amanda has a lot of friends, everyone loves being around her. I can’t even tell you. This is her mother’s only daughter,” said Sadlowski-Garza.
Alvarez-Calo has been active in her community and works in after-school programs, community gardens and violence prevention group Safe Kids Chicago, Sadlowski-Garza said. “She helped mentor kids who were going the wrong way,” she said. “Everybody loves Amanda.”
Sadlowski-Garza says she cares deeply about her students at the Matthew Gallistel Learning Institute where she has taught.
Principal Kimberly Nelson released a statement after her death saying “our thoughts are with the family of Ms. Alvarez during this difficult time. We are deeply saddened by this loss and will do all we can to help you and your child during this extremely difficult time.”
CPS’ Crisis Management Unit has been working with the academy to provide ongoing services and support to students, according to the school’s website.
Alvarez-Calo is very close to her family and is proud of her Puerto Rican roots, Kate Garza said. The couple became close during their time at Whitney Young High School, and when Alvarez-Calo attended DePaul University.
“I only have three brothers. She was the closest thing I’ve ever had to an older sister,” said Kate Garza.
Alvarez-Calo “is a star, she’s like a bright light,” says Tyler Garza. “She would walk into a room, people would look in her direction and she would put a smile on their face.”
He says she has a special way of connecting with people. “She is truly one of those special people that you will remember for the rest of your life. She has had a huge impact on so many people with her outgoing and life-loving personality,” he said.
Alvarez-Calo left behind two children, 1 and 4.
The youngest, Myla, was born during the pandemic and is especially attached to her mother. Kate Garza said: “She always said she was very attached to her at the hip.
Alvarez-Calo is an avid reader. Kate Garza said: “She would read through books. Some of her favorite works are “All the Light We Can’t See” by Anthony Doerr, and “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, she says.
Kate Garza said she is considering starting a book club in her honor.
Alvarez-Calo has worked hard to develop and perfect himself. When a friend was diagnosed with HIV, she turned to an advocacy class to learn how to support her friend, says Kate Garza.
ONE GoFundMe The page created for Alvarez-Calo on Tuesday afternoon had raised more than $70,000 by Wednesday afternoon.
Visitation is Monday, January 31, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Elmwood Chapel, 11200 S. Ewing Ave.
Funeral service is 11 a.m. Tuesday, February 1, at Our Lady of Nazareth, 11128 S. Avenue G, followed by a burial at Holy Cross Cemetery, 801 Michigan City Road, Calumet.
https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/teacher-killed-in-murder-suicide-was-active-in-violence-prevention-mentored-troubled-kids/2739987/ Teacher killed in murder-suicide was active in stopping violence, children in trouble were mentored – NBC Chicago