CHICAGO — A citywide effort is focused on raising money to help families facing hardship during the coronavirus pandemic.
The March to Recovery, announced Monday from United Way of Metro Chicago, looks to support community organizations helping residents with food insecurity and mental health issues worsened by the pandemic.
While there has been some hope because of the vaccine rollout, “the reality is families are still struggling,” said Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. Hundreds of thousands of people in Cook County are food insecure and numerous people have been unemployed at some point in the last year, Garrett said.
“So many communities across the South and West sides are exacerbated by the conditions that were there before … . We can’t just come back to where we were a year ago, we need to come back stronger,” Garrett said.
Last year, United Way and the Chicago Community Trust in collaboration with the city launched the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund.
The initiative raised more than $35 million that was distributed to more than 400 organizations working on coronavirus relief in hard-hit communities. Greater Chicago Food Depository, Thresholds, Beyond Hunger, Erie Neighborhood House, El Valor and Residents Association of Greater Englewood were among the recipients.
As part of the last year’s fundraising campaign, 50 million meals were provided across the region and 290,000 households received primary care or mental health services. Nearly 40,000 households received direct financial assistance, according to United Way officials.
While the focus is to meet basic needs, United Way is also taking a hyperlocal approach to help neighborhoods “reduce the challenge that we see today, which is, that your ZIP Code can predict your destiny,” Garrett said.
By working with community partners, organizers’ goal is to be responsive to neighbors’ evolving needs, Garrett said.
“We want to make sure trusted community partners exist in neighborhoods and are able to respond to the needs of the community as they change,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are working hand and hand with them to respond accordingly.”
Those interested in making a contribution can donate here.
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