In 1969, a lone employee paid by Catholic Charities led dozens of volunteers determining the need — primarily food-related — in six suburban communities and how to meet it at a time when the term “safety net” was associated with circus trapeze artists. The result was an effort called Respond Now, and 50 years later, the Chicago-Heights-based non-profit is staffed by 11 employees and powered by volunteers who contribute more than 6,000 hours every year, serving nearly 25 communities. In human terms, that service translates into 14,000 families who’ve come to Respond Now with housing, hunger and health issues.
Families pick up a week’s worth of groceries once a month at Respond Now’s food pantry. Some clients get money for prescription medicine. The agency also helps about 100 families a year when a financial crisis hits to stay in their homes through one-time payments for mortgage, rent or utilities. “They have to show they can pay their bills normally,” Executive Director Carl Wolf said. In addition, the agency provides rapid re-housing yearly for 30 homeless people.
This is a group of people who have been helping in their community for decades and making a difference on thousands of lives. It is a monumental task to help so many people for so long but one they achieved and will continue to. Respond Now board President Patrick Gallagher, noting the organization was started by the community, said continued support “gives us the flexibility to do the work the community entrusted to us 50 years ago,because all of our neighbors matter.”
Love thy neighbor at work in the best of ways. It’s your Good News Story of the Day and you can read more of it here.
Story and Image from the Chicago Tribune.