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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

I Grow Chicago Raising Money To Better Help Black Chicagoans Struggling During Pandemic

Through May 20, all donations — no matter the amount — will be matched with a $100 gift from an anonymous donor.

The Peace House
I Grow Chicago
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ENGLEWOOD — I Grow Chicago needs help to continue helping Englewood residents, who have been among the worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Southwest Side organization has launched an online fundraising campaign, No Life Is Expendable, to cover its mounting costs, aiming to receive 2,500 donations of any size through May 20. Any amount received will be matched with a $100 gift from an anonymous donor.

So far, the campaign has raised more than $93,000 from 927 donors. Donations can be made online.

The money will be used by the group to help Englewood residents as they grapple with coronavirus. About 98 percent of the families the group serves are Black, and Black Chicagoans have suffered disproportionate losses due to COVID-19 — and even before then.

“The campaign is a direct response to the horrific statistics … that 70 percent of the people in Chicago dying are Black,” said Development Director Zelda Mayer. “And before this virus, we already knew that there was a 30-year gap in life expectancy between Englewood and Streeterville. And we know that this pandemic is an opportunity to either widen that gap — throwing people’s lives away — or to close that gap and pursue justice.”

With the future still so uncertain and demand ever-growing, donations are vital so the group can continue its work, Mayer said. That’s especially true now, when I Grow Chicago is spending an additional, unbudgeted $30,000 a month to address the crisis.

Since the pandemic broke, I Grow Chicago has delivered thousands of meals, groceries and personal protective equipment items to families in the neighborhood. And it’s still providing a number of services, including tutoring, legal assistance and emergency financial support.

The organization’s staff and volunteers have handled a range of requests, doing everything from helping residents secure state IDs to arranging medical check-ins with volunteer physicians.

“We have to provide the resources that people need to survive this pandemic, and the intention of this campaign is really about collective impact,” Mayer said.

The group does have good news, too: One of its board members, Gwen Johnson, was hospitalized with coronavirus in April. The community matriarch is now on the mend and will soon start physical therapy.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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