A Visit with Chicago’s First Lady, Amy Eshleman

Apr 29, 2020

During National Volunteer Week, Chicago’s First Lady, Amy Eshleman, stopped by The Salvation Army’s Chicago Temple Corps Community Center in Chicago’s West Loop. She was there to support the staff and volunteers and help distribute pantry food boxes with a week’s worth of food that many seniors and families in that area have come to depend on during the COVID-19 pandemic. The corps community center now serves approximately 110 people and families each week, a dramatic increase in requests from prior to the pandemic.

After an hour of heavy lifting and caring for City residents, the First Lady sat down for a few minutes to discuss The Salvation Army’s efforts to feed people in need, the role of nonprofits today and in the future, what inspires her about Chicago, and her favorite comfort foods.

The Salvation Army: Of all the places to volunteer, what drew you to The Salvation Army?

First Lady Amy Eshleman: As the lead agency for Chicago’s Feeding Task Force, The Salvation Army is serving our neighbors in need. I stopped by to thank the dedicated staff and volunteers on behalf of Lori during National Volunteer Week – and help with food distributions.

Were you familiar with The Salvation Army before volunteering at Temple? What are your impressions of the work we do?

FL: I am grateful that The Salvation Army is dedicated to meeting the needs of people affected by COVID-19, whether they need food and emergency assistance, or hope and support. The Salvation Army is a strong partner in the City’s targeted outreach to vulnerable populations, ensuring Chicago’s neighborhoods have the food and essentials they need.

With that said, what do you see as the role of nonprofit organizations during this pandemic and in the future?

FL: Chicago has a great tradition of nonprofits doing important work. And the partnerships built among nonprofits and with the City will last long beyond the pandemic. There is a renewed sense of purpose and I believe this work will grow stronger.

Why is feeding such an important part of the City’s response to this pandemic?

FL: Fifty nine percent of people seeking food assistance choose between paying for food and paying rent or mortgage. For too many Chicagoans who were already unsure of where their next meal will come from, lost wages and illness due to COVID-19 are adding to their daily struggle.

What has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve watched Chicagoans face this crisis?

FL: Lori and I have been so inspired by the selfless, hardworking staff and volunteers – including frontline and  healthcare workers – serving Chicagoans who are most in need. We’ll get through this together.

How is your family coping during this time? What are you doing to keep busy and safe? What is your favorite way to destress during this time?

FL: Like most families, we’re supporting our daughter’s home schooling. And Viv and I have been staying home and flexing our creative muscles to make #StayHomeSaveLives signs and share them with our neighborhood, posting them in our front windows. Do your part: Stay Home. Save Lives.

And finally, what is your favorite comfort food?

FL: I love pie from the Bang Bang Pie Shop in our neighborhood, Logan Square. I can’t wait for them to reopen!

We are grateful to the First Lady for her volunteer efforts and support of The Salvation Army’s mission to serve those most in need.

Learn about all the ways The Salvation Army is responding to the coronavirus – as well as how you can help – at salarmychicago.org/coronavirus

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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.

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