Spring 2021 Newsletter

Chromebook Distribution Thank You Notes

In partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Office of Immigrants & Refugee Welcoming Centers, we provided ESL and digital literacy classes to students who had lost all or part of their income. Graduates of this initiative received Chromebooks to continue their job search and education efforts.

“I would like to give thanks to the people who donated the computers. Thank you for thinking of me because due to COVID I was unemployed. I am also taking care of my son with disabilities, he is taking remote classes at home and I am doing the computer classes that were offered to parents beforehand, I am grateful for your donation, thank you very much.” – Blanca

” I am very grateful for the Chromebook and for the help that you have gifted me in these difficult moments that we are experiencing due to Covid, for us to be able to continue to learn and study in my English classes. I am of very low resources, and that is the reason that I continue to seek help with your organization. Thank you for always supporting every person to continue moving forward with our goals and dreams, thank you may God continue to bless you.” -Rudy

Read More Thank You Notes

Note from The Executive Director

This past year has brought many new challenges and opportunities. We are fortunate that those who make up Onward House – our staff, boards, volunteers, funders, and donors have helped us remain financially strong. This has allowed us to be nimble in rapidly addressing the pressing needs of the Belmont Cragin community with in-person and online programming.

Whether it is running to the store for more food and diapers, adding new computer and ESL classes, or making calls for vaccination appointments, we appreciate your trust in our work.

In our last newsletter, we mentioned an increased focus on health – and I am proud to say that CommunityHealth is now a part of our home. In 2021 we will be looking into how we can support the health of the community at all levels:

  • Facilitating connections to health: from being a trusted resource for vaccine information, referrals, and on-site health care opportunities.
  • Provide education around health issues: We will provide more workshops, recipes, exercise classes, and health fairs that promote an active lifestyle.
  • Advocacy: We are known to be great health and disability advocates for children in our programs, and will extend our advocacy efforts to support the Belmont Cragin community.

We hope that you will continue to support us with your words of encouragement, connections to other organizations, donations, and volunteer time.

Thank you for your support,

Mario F. García

CommunityHealth at Onward House is now Open!

The first telehealth clinic of its kind in Chicago, CommunityHealth uses the power and accessibility of telehealth to link uninsured patients to CommunityHealth providers. At Onward House, patients can now receive an assisted virtual visit, access to lab services, medication distribution, referrals to Onward House education and support services, and access to CommunityHealth’s full comprehensive services.

Onward House and the Belmont Cragin neighborhood was specifically targeted to make health care more accessible to those who can benefit from CommunityHealth’s services. 27% of Belmont Cragin residents are uninsured, and 1 in 5 individuals reported using the emergency room as their primary source of health care. Belmont Cragin is ranked as one of the top 15 neighborhoods in the City of Chicago’s COVID Vulnerability Index. By adding on-site services, we are seeing many of our parents and adult learners sign up for this new initiative.

Food Pantry Update

Our Food Pantry has had quite a year. The Greater Chicago Food Depository reported a 175% increase in food distribution from our site. We jumped from 58,559 lbs to 160,851 lbs of food. This does not include the many food donations from our supporters. We appreciate everyone who has donated food, diapers, and supplies.

We’ve moved! Our Food Pantry is currently located in our adult education offices and classrooms while we search for a new permanent space. Stay tuned for opportunities to help us make this transition over the next year.

Teacher’s Corner: Notes from the Classroom

“I live work and thrive in the Belmont Cragin community I have been in this community for over 50 years. I enjoy helping kiddos learn a concept and applying what they learn to other things. I enjoy watching the kiddos become confident and independent.” – Rita

“Working at Onward house has been such an inspiration to me. It has encouraged me to think outside the box and try new ways of teaching to support every child in my care….I have become a confidant and an advocate for parents and children. I have become a voice for children and parents that are unable to articulate the needs that they experience in their day-to-day lives. I am proud and honored to be a part of such a wonderful and inviting organization that serves the community, parents, and the whole child.” – Marteen

Read More from Onward House Teachers

How Your Donation Can Help

$1,000: Quality supplies for a whole year for one classroom, including items that parents can take home to extend the learning experience.

$800: Provides one month of subsidized affordable low-risk space for business owners at The Bounce retail accelerator.

$500: One year of supplies for computer classes. Including: Laptop repairs, paper, printing.

$400: Supports one week of food pantry administration including ordering, deliveries, volunteer coordination, and distribution.

$260: Ten packages of diapers to hand out at the food pantry, our most requested non-food item.

$150: One hour of nurse service, including observations in classrooms and health training for teachers and parents.

$100: One hour of mental health consulting or speech therapy.

$50: One hour of support for small businesses with computer, website/marketing, licensing questions.

With 8 youth classrooms, and over 16 adult education classes, a food pantry, and retail accelerator, we impact 5,500 individuals, 950 families annually.