Share Your Success Story

Do you have a success story of how your organization is rising above the challenges during this tough time of uncertainty? Share your special organizational good news stories as they happen.  Submit your own written story (and/or photo) here for publication on our website and in an upcoming newsletter. 

Fundraisers are working hard to make a positive impact and continue the good while sheltered in place. We’ll be highlighting stories, from around Chicagoland to serve as a spark of inspiration and an uplifting reminder of what is possible. We will post as many as we are able, so please check back soon and follow along!  

Elevate Energy ~ Providing Groceries to Relieve Food Insecurity

Submitted by: Emma Baumgart, Senior Communications Coordinator, Elevate Energy

Elevate Energy has a tradition of putting people first, a culture that matters more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. A nonprofit that serves low-income communities through energy, water, and safety opportunities. Elevate Energy pivoted its services during the pandemic to continue to support their communities.

What started as a simple phone call went a long way. After in-person work was postponed, Elevate Energy began reaching out to older adults enrolled in a home-repair program to make sure they were receiving critical services and social support during Illinois' shelter-in-place order. Upon hearing that they were struggling with accessing food, Elevate Energy started providing home grocery deliveries so older adults didn’t have to put themselves at risk. Since late March, Elevate Energy has provided over 250 weekly grocery deliveries to 170 households, a service that continued through the stay-at-home order.

Elevate Energy intentionally partners with diverse contractors on energy efficiency work. Diverse businesses are underrepresented in the clean energy economy and have been hit particularly hard by the work stoppages in recent weeks. To help support these important businesses, Elevate Energy teamed up with partners and funders to provide forgivable, zero-interest loans for diverse contractors so they can pay their staff and stabilize their businesses during this unprecedented time.

Elevate Energy’s initiatives are supporting the most vulnerable in their communities, providing immediate assistance that is rooted in equitable action, and building a path for a better future for all.

Marillac St Vincent Family Services ~ Initiated a COVID 19 Relief Fund

Submitted by: Daniel Cummins, Director of Development, Marillac St Vincent Family Services 

The Spanish flu pandemic, Great Depression, world wars and through it all over the last 100 years the Daughters of Charity and Marillac St Vincent have been committed to serving those in our society who needed the most help.  Today, we continue to serve families across Chicago including many communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID 19 crisis. Our entire program staff is in action. Our commitment is to focus our efforts to address the challenges faced by those in our city who need the most help.

  • Our food pantries remain open and have seen a 25% increase in visitors, many visiting a food pantry for the first time in their lives
  • Educators are engaging students online by creating read-aloud story videos and hosting virtual gatherings for our youth.
  • Family Support and Community Outreach staff are reaching out to families, sharing resources, and providing referrals.
  • The Senior Services team and volunteers are checking in on homebound seniors and delivering food ¿ all with appropriate health safeguards.

To support families directly financially impacted by the COVID 19 crisis, we started the COVID 19 Relief Fund which provides direct financial support. To date we have raised or committed $216,000 which is helping 174 families, comprised of 663 men, women, and children to purchase the necessities of life.

Now, with the support of a very generous anonymous donor, we are embarking on a $100,000 challenge.  All gifts received after April 15th for the COVID 19 Relief Fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000. All to help families survive this crisis with dignity and prepare them for the return to normalcy.

Our client says it best, “I am so thankful for this gift. I was able to buy groceries and stock up on food to feed my family for the next week! “ Latoya

Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) ~ Supporting their Communities

Submitted by: Cathy Splett, CFRE, Superintendent of Development, Special Leisure Services Foundation

When the Stay at Home Order was issued, it immediately closed the doors at Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) office for hundreds of individuals with disabilities. The sense of fear and isolation mounted for these individuals who were accustomed to seeing their friends on a Friday night, playing basketball with their team, or attending their weekly sensory therapy session.

During these tough times of isolation, NWSRA recognized the increased need for resources to help families remain healthy, active and engaged. To help address this need, NWSRA proudly introduced the NWSRA Activity Center. The Center provides a wide variety of activities, games and videos created by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS). Fortunately for individuals with disabilities in the northwest suburbs, these specialists have the education, skills and training necessary to continue providing therapeutic services to individuals who require individual or small group support through this difficult time.

Expanding upon the Activity Center, NWSRA then unveiled its live and pre-recorded Virtual Programming lineup for spring. Through activity-based interventions, these programs improve and maintain the physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual functioning of individuals with disabilities.

NWSRA Executive Director Tracey Crawford stated “We are so grateful for the continued support of NWSRA Board Members and their Boards, who recognize the essential importance of reducing anxiety, stress, behaviors and enhancing skills of individuals with disabilities through this difficult time. NWSRA looks forward to continuing to deliver outstanding recreational programming for individuals with disabilities during this unprecedented time.” 

Little City ~ Mask Crusaders

Submitted by: Tina Maraccini, Director of Communications, Little City

Nancy Baraglia has been a tailor for 50 years, but she never expected the most important thing she may ever make is a face mask that could save a life. 

"This is just unprecedented,” Nancy said.  “In my 56 years it never dawned on me I would be making masks. But you realize the need and feel so helpless and you want to do something. I knew someone needed them and to find out who that someone was, was a really good feeling."  Nancy is one of a handful of people who have taken the extraordinary step of reaching out to Little City, a non-for-profit that serves individuals with developmental disabilities, to make and give much-needed masks for care providers and residents. And thankfully, her daughter connected her to Little City and now Nancy has donated nearly 100 masks to the agency.

Other sewing superstars have emerged.  Friends Peg O’ Herron and Anna Hoffman have made roughly 300 masks for Little City, thanks to a team effort. Both came to learn of Little City through their frequent bike club trips past the Palatine campus and knew it could be a place in need of masks during the crisis.

Peg said she and Anna were looking for ways to give locally and both had connections to Little City and saw a perfect opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable people.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Peg said. “We’re all retired and staying home and this gives us a real positive purpose.”

None of this would have come together without the hard work of Jane Danley Cruz, Relationship Manager at Little City. Jane has networked and organized the project to bring people together who were looking for a place to help in this time of need. 

Jane used her contacts through the group Illinois Wildlife Crafters - originally established to help animals displaced by the Australian wildfires - to find people looking to use their sewing talents to create masks for those at Little City. Jane herself has sewn masks for Little City as well as Tina Lowry, Director of Health and Wellness at Little City. Jane’s family has also contributed as her sister and friend have donated fabric to the cause.

METROSQUASH ~ Making their Mark (Virtually!)

Submitted by: Ryan Jameson, Development Manager, MetroSquash

MetroSquash is an out-of-school time program that supports Chicago students from 5th grade through post-secondary completion.  Our program staff is conducting weekly check-ins with all our families and they always understand their needs.  One challenge expressed by many of our families was the ability to engage in e-learning without access to adequate technology.  Therefore, one of our staff members made individual deliveries to our families and gifted them with a Chromebook.  Our families were so appreciative that we are able to lend this type of support.