Stories of Help and Hope in the Face of Coronavirus
As our corps community centers throughout the Metropolitan Division – serving greater Chicagoland, northern Illinois, and northwest Indiana – adhere to the ever-changing guidelines to keep those they serve safe, they are still finding ways to meet the needs of their neighbors. Here are a few of those inspiring stories from around our division. When you support The Salvation Army, this is the kind of hope and help you provide.
Serving the Most Vulnerable
We are continuing to see a high demand in our pantry and feeding program. Some of these clients are elderly, for whom going to the grocery store and finding all the bare shelves is a real barrier. We had a number of people who came first thing Monday morning, probably because they couldn't find much in the stores.
Another client commented that she had been looking for work, and we were able to pass along the information that local grocery stores are hiring temporary staff to deal with this situation.
We've been surprised at how many people have been coming to our feeding program. We are now serving meals out of the canteen in the parking lot, to avoid having crowds of people eating close together. Even so, we've been serving probably as many or more individuals as usual. Even yesterday, when it was raining and they had to stand in the rain to get their meals, we still served 60 individuals. There is definitely need in this time, especially for our most vulnerable.
We are also working with a skeleton staff, because about three-fourths of our workers are with AARP, and AARP is having them all stay home for two weeks (which is, of course, a good idea, since they are senior citizens). But our church members have been stepping up and helping to bag groceries and lunches.
-Lieutenant Leta Marin, East Chicago Corps Community Center
A Blessing for Us
Our drive-up food distribution of pre-packed food boxes has worked well. While our staff loads the car, I capture the info on a clipboard for our stats. I have prayed with nearly every person who has come for food. They are so grateful for the prayers and the food.
Our volunteers are sad to have been asked to stay home – they really do have a servant's heart. We have asked a few volunteers to come in, and they were so pleased to help with pre-packing the food boxes.
One older gentleman asked me to pray with him and then he prayed a blessing over us! A local school made too many bagged breakfasts and lunches and donated them to us, which we will include in our food boxes.
God is still in control. He is worthy to be trusted in this and all things.
-Pamela Church-Pryor, Community Ministries Director, Norridge Citadel Corps Community Center
This morning I received a telephone call from an elderly couple in Hammond, Indiana, who are health-compromised and can't leave their home. The wife called for food assistance, but had no way of picking it up. She had called the township trustee's office and another agency, but they weren't answering their phones and their mailboxes were full, so they could not leave a message. I delivered the food to their door just an hour ago. Both the husband and wife were hooked up to portable respirators.
There is a large population of aging and health-compromised people in Hammond and Munster who are confined to their homes right now. The more that we can get the food and other supplies to them, the better.
-Kevin Feldman, Director of Development, Lake County, Indiana
A Reassuring Presence
Due to the coronavirus, our food pantry was on an unusual day at the Des Plaines corps community center. We made changes in the way we distribute food. We are working with less volunteers and we limit the number of people who are entering our doors.
Despite these procedures, we served 58 families who were in need of food boxes or sandwiches. When one of our clients asked, “Are you open today?” his face changed when we said yes, our food pantry is open.
No matter the inconvenience, they wait for the food in their vehicles. In brief, the food pantry participants were pleased to receive their food knowing that we are doing the best to serve our community in Des Plaines.
-Major Cristina Stasiuc, Des Plaines Corps Community Center
Still Tending the Flock
I wanted to approach this social distancing in a different manner. I sent everyone from my congregation Bible studies and devotions. I am sending one every week until we start meeting again. On Sunday, I communicated with everyone from my congregation. My wife and I are also doing some in-home visitations to those in special-need situations.
-Lieutenant Pablo Rivera, Mayfair Community Church and Community Center
A Caring Community at All Times
A story about the kind of ministry that takes place year-round and is extra meaningful during the coronavirus crisis:
Over the years, our pantry at the LaVillita Corps has become a place for locals to receive not just emergency food, but it has become a place where people come and see a familiar, caring face. Our volunteers and staff have been able to experience milestones, celebrations, and struggles with our clients. We have developed a relationship with people from all walks of life.
One specific client has been coming to our pantry for many years. She is a senior who is a regular in our pantry and has always shared her life struggles with us. Recently, she lost her husband. Our client had been updating us about her husband’s health every time she came for food. She said that thanks to our services she was able to afford gas for her car to be able to see her husband, who was in a nursing home. We became a place for her to vent about her life struggles and she always felt confident in having someone to remember her and her story when she came into our corps.
When her husband passed, she came as she usually did on a Wednesday and brought her husband’s obituary. She came with a heavy heart, and she was able to share her grief with us. Days when we are able to comfort someone in their tough moments is what the Salvation Army stands for – being present and a helping hand is what we do for people in our community.
- Annie Tellez, Emergency Worker, LaVillita Corps Community Center
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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.