(Chicago, IL -- June 12, 2020) -- Many areas in Chicago have been devastated by the economic hardships of the pandemic and then by the destruction of neighborhood stores. Two of the hardest hit areas are Bronzeville and Woodlawn on the South Side of Chicago. They are also the most vulnerable communities in the Chicago area. Families who were struggling to overcome job losses now find that they don't even have a place to buy basic necessities without taking public transportation. The situation is particularly hard on parents of small children when there are no markets nearby to purchase formula and other essential needs.
Realizing that, though important, words sometimes aren’t enough, StandWithUs Midwest put out a call for action to get donations of baby formula/baby food and help fill a need expressed by the community. The idea was the brainchild of Peggy Shapiro, SWU Midwest Director, and Dr. Sheri Ross, SWU Midwest Board President, pediatrician and a partner in Lake Shore Pediatrics/ PediaTrust.
It took just one email from each, and formula donations came pouring in from all 11 PediaTrust offices, as well as other pediatricians (Dr. Belinda Radis, Associated Pediatric Partners, Dr. Barbara Slivnik, Children's Healthcare Associates, Marc. A. Freed, FGM Pediatrics) and StandWithUs supporters. “The most uplifting part of the experience is that people thanked us for the opportunity to donate,” commented Shapiro.
On Friday, June 12, StandWithUs board members filled a large van and several SUVs with baby formula, baby food, diapers and other baby products and dropped them off at Bright Star Church, whose senior pastor Christopher Harris has a long relationship with StandWithUs and the Jewish community. Then the baby food caravan went to Project HOOD, a vision created by Pastor Corey Brooks. Project HOOD is a model of how to transform despair into hope and oppression into opportunity. Pastor Brooks, who models his entrepreneurial programs after Israel’s startup nation model, and StandWithUs look forward to more opportunities to partner and educate both communities.
"Chicago's south side community was devastated after recent protests took a turn for the worse. One of the hardest-hit groups was single mothers. With the donations of baby formula, baby food, and other supplies, we can help thousands of children receive proper nutrition. We are eternally grateful to Peggy Shapiro and StandWithUs and all of the donors who opened their hearts." stated Pastor Corey B. Brooks, Executive Director of Project H.O.O.D.
This experience illustrated how important it is for communities to work together, to help those in need at times of crisis and to maintain ongoing relationships. "After all, it is through relationships that we can begin to understand our differences, educate our communities and develop strategies. Most importantly, it is through relationships that we can discover that our commonalities are far greater than our differences," concluded Shapiro.