Chicago-Wide Nonprofit Collaboration Provides Critical COVID-19 Relief

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Chicago Fellowship gives aid and economic support to 11,000 residents in hardest hit neighborhoods

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"We think, with this help, we can stay open until things get better," says Nestor Cruz, co-owner of Taqueria La Paz, a local restaurant.

Chicago Fellowship, an assembly of faith-based community and business leaders, has partnered with seven community-based nonprofits to provide food, protection, and employment to residents affected by COVID-19 in some of Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods.

Within days of launching its fund last month, the fellowship raised $140,000 and formed partnerships with well-established nonprofits and local restaurants in East Garfield Park, Austin, Woodlawn, Westhaven Park, North Lawndale, Altgeld and Cabrini Green. Together, this unique alliance of business leaders, nonprofits and restaurants is meeting critical needs. To date, the group has secured funding to provide meals and personal protective equipment for over 11,000 Chicagoans. How it works: after nonprofits identify beneficiaries, the Chicago Fellowship purchases meals from local restaurants and provides reusable personal protection equipment (PPE) with each one.

Partners organizations include: Breakthrough Urban Ministries, By the Hand Club for Kids, Circle Urban Ministries, GAP Community Center, Sunshine Gospel Ministries, Together Chicago and YMEN Chicago.

“We know the same groups that face persistent poverty are the ones contracting coronavirus and bearing the brunt of its economic cost,” says Tom Formolo, longtime board member of the Chicago Fellowship. “Through this unique collaboration of nonprofits, restaurants, donors and volunteers across the city, we’re providing support where it’s needed most.

Committed to working with local businesses, the initiative also provides much-needed economic stimulus for the restaurant industry. As Illinois moves through its next phases of reopening the economy, efforts like these critically bridge the gap to keep local restaurants open until full recovery.

“We were beginning to have problems where we couldn’t catch up on bills. We had 15 employees, most living in this area, and we cut half of them,” says Nestor Cruz, co-owner of Taqueria La Paz. “We got so excited about [the relief fund]. We think, with this help, we can stay open until things get better.”

The Chicago Fellowship COVID-19 Relief Fund continues to accept donations, 100% of which will go directly to those who need it most.More information about the effort, partner organizations and donating can be found at https://cfcovidrelief.org/.

About the Chicago Fellowship: Founded in 1990, the Chicago Fellowship is an assembly of local faith-based business leaders committed encouraging men toward acts of compassion and justice into the broken places of the world. Find out more at http://www.chicagofellowship.com.

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Kelly Van Tuinen
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