Blog

COVID-19 Update II

Since 1893, Onward Neighborhood House has been a trusted and critical resource for families in Chicago, specifically in Belmont Cragin and surrounding neighborhoods. It is our mission to improve lives and uplift communities through educational, economic and support services. While COVID-19 has thrown all of our lives into turmoil, our commitment to supporting our neighbors is unwavering.

To protect the health and safety of Onward Neighborhood House staff and participants, we have made the difficult decision to suspend all in-person programming starting Wednesday, March 18, and will reopen when most feasible or when the city and state governments have given clearance to do so. Our adult education program and The Lab are now taking place virtually.  We are working with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to find alternative methods for distributing food due to our partner, St Peter’s where the pantry is located, is currently closed. Our staff is doing a great job while working from home to ensure that the needs of our community are being met, especially in these challenging times.

While we are forced to be physically distanced from the families we serve, we are focusing our energy on creative solutions to attempt to support them remotely. Some of the ways we are providing critical resources to our community include:

  • After a brief pause in service, our Food Pantry will be open for food package pickup Thursdays from 4 PM – 6 PM.
  • Coordinating the distribution of diapers and wipes to the community. We are currently providing other resources and referrals to other support networks as necessary.
  • All staff members are working to provide resources to our community. Our Early Childhood Education teachers are calling all parents in our programs to share home-learning guidance and lesson plans. They are supporting parents with methods for ensuring that their children have consistent schedules, regular educational engagement, and more. Our Family Support Workers have been contacting families regularly to provide much-needed resources and supplies as well as lending an ear to discuss their concerns.
  • We are collecting and sharing information regarding unemployment and job opportunities. For example, Walmart is hiring for many positions and is offering a $300 signing bonus. We are doing all we can to help our families maintain financial stability.

Onward Neighborhood House relies on the support of our generous funders, and thanks to the grants and donations already received this fiscal year, a successful gala held in February, and a committed contract from the State of Illinois for our Early Childhood Education program, we are currently financially solvent. We will continue to pursue our diverse revenue streams, but do not yet know what to expect for the remainder of our fiscal year (June 30).

While we may not be physically present in our community, our dedication to our mission has proven to be steadfast through a number of local and national crises. Onward Neighborhood House responded to our community’s greatest needs in times of war, the Great Chicago Fire, the Great Depression, and countless other frightening moments. Our work will certainly not stop now.

Our community, much like the city, country, and world, is concerned about the future. We have seen, however, that the residents of Belmont Cragin are resilient – they have overcome great challenges in order to build better lives for themselves and their families, and they will do so again. We will be there to help them every step of the way.

QUESTIONS? Contact Nikki Way, Director of Development at nway@onwardhouse.org


Desde 1893, Onward Neighborhood House ha sido un recurso crítico y confiable para las familias en Chicago, específicamente en Belmont Cragin y los vecindarios circundantes. Nuestra misión es mejorar las vidas y elevar las comunidades a través de servicios educativos, económicos y de apoyo.  Si bien COVID-19 ha puesto todas nuestras vidas en crisis, nuestro compromiso de apoyar a nuestros vecinos es inquebrantable.

Para proteger la salud y la seguridad del personal y los participantes de Onward Neighborhood House hemos tomado la difícil decisión de suspender toda la programación en persona a partir del miércoles 18 de marzo, y volveremos a abrir cuando sea más factible o cuando los gobiernos de la ciudad y el estado hayan autorizado a hacerlo. Nuestro programa de educación para adultos y The Lab ahora se llevan a cabo virtualmente. Estamos trabajando con el depósito de alimentos de Greater Chicago para encontrar métodos alternativos para distribuir alimentos, debido a nuestro colaborador principal, La Iglesia de San Pedro (St. Peter’s Church), está cerrado actualmente y es donde se encuentra la despensa. Nuestro personal está haciendo un gran trabajo mientras trabaja desde su hogar para garantizar que se satisfagan las necesidades de nuestra comunidad, especialmente en estos tiempos difíciles.

Si bien nos vemos obligados a distanciarnos físicamente de las familias a las que servimos, estamos enfocando nuestra energía en soluciones creativas para intentar apoyarlos de forma remota. Algunas de las formas en que estamos proporcionando recursos críticos a nuestra comunidad incluyen:

  • Coordinar la distribución de pañales y toallitas a la comunidad. Actualmente estamos proporcionando otros recursos y referencias a otras redes de soporte según sea necesario. 
  • Todos los miembros del personal están trabajando para proporcionar recursos a nuestra comunidad. Nuestras maestras de Educación de la Primera Infancia están llamando a todos los padres en nuestros programas para compartir la guía de aprendizaje en el hogar y los planes de enseñanza. Están apoyando a los padres como métodos para asegurar que sus hijos tengan horarios consistentes, participación educativa regular y más. Nuestros trabajadores de apoyo familiar se han puesto en contacto regularmente con las familias para proporcionarles los recursos y suministros que tanto necesitan, así como para prestarles atención para analizar sus inquietudes.
  • Estamos recopilando y compartiendo información sobre desempleo y oportunidades de trabajo. Por ejemplo, Walmart está contratando para muchos puestos y ofrece un bono de $300 al momento de ser contratado. Estamos haciendo todo lo posible para ayudar a nuestras familias a mantener la estabilidad financiera.

Onward Neighborhood House cuenta con el apoyo de nuestros generosos patrocinadores y estamos actualmente solvente financieramente gracias a las subvenciones y donaciones ya recibidas este año fiscal, una exitosa gala celebrada en febrero, y un contrato comprometido de Estado de Illinois para nuestro programa de Educación de la Primera Infancia. Continuaremos buscando nuestros diversos flujos de ingresos, pero aún no sabemos qué esperar para el resto de nuestro año fiscal que finaliza el 30 de junio.

Si bien es posible que no estemos físicamente presentes en nuestra comunidad, nuestra dedicación a nuestra misión ha demostrado ser firme a través de una serie de crisis locales y nacionales. Onward Neighborhood House respondió a las mayores necesidades de nuestra comunidad en tiempos de guerra, el Gran Incendio de Chicago, la Gran Depresión y muchos otros momentos aterradores. Nuestro trabajo ciertamente no se detendrá ahora.

Nuestra comunidad, al igual que la ciudad, el país y el mundo, está preocupado por el futuro. Sin embargo, hemos visto que los residentes de Belmont Cragin son resistentes: han superado grandes desafíos para construir mejores vidas para ellos y sus familias, y lo volverán a hacer. Estaremos allí para ayudarlos en cada paso del camino.

COVID-19 Update

March 16, 2020

Due to the growing concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Onward House has made the difficult decision to close programs to preserve the health and safety of families and staff members.

Onward House will be closed starting Wednesday, March 18, and plans to open again on Monday, March 30.

  • All in-person meetings and events will be canceled through March 30, 2020.
  • Staff will be working remotely and will be in touch with the families to provide support during the closing. We are fully aware of the difficulties this crisis is or will bring to you and your family.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu with fever, coughing and shortness of breath. It appears to mainly spread through close person- to- person contact. It may be possible for someone to touch a surface or object with the virus on it and then touch their nose or mouth and become infected, but this is not the main way the virus spreads, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health experts.

Onward House diligently follows Universal Precautions for infection control and is increasing the frequency of this to assure that we are doing everything possible to keep everyone who comes to our building safe. There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 at Onward House.

Please help stop the spread of COVID by following these precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that is at least 60% Alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid close proximity to other people.
  • If possible, stay home.

Your Family Support Worker will be in touch with you on a regular basis during the time we are closed to provide assistance to you and your family.

*Need to reach a staff member, and not sure who to contact? Send us a message via Contact Form and we will connect you*

Stay Healthy!

Mario F. Garcia

Executive Director

A Thank You from David

Dear Supporter,

Being a part of Onward House has been a great experience for my family and me. The staff is very nice and very helpful. Onward has plenty of information for low-income families to find the services we need to help our families. Growing up is very tough when you’re poor. I still remember standing in church lines for food. Still to this day, I take part in receiving food from the churches, [which] really helps since I’m on disability.

Onward is amazing and still helping my family to get by every week of the year and I feel truly blessed to be a part of this family. Thank you for the opportunity to express my gratitude.

– David

David’s Story

Sitting in the park each day, David noticed that his son’s peers were babbling and using words, but his son still wasn’t speaking. An online search for resources was overwhelming, and David put a lot of pressure on himself to help his son talk. David was aware of Onward House, but believed that his son’s delay would keep him out of the program.

(Onward House works with a high number of children with disabilities, some of whom have been denied or turned away from private childcare centers because of their additional needs.)

Now David receives speech therapy to help him learn to make new sounds. Both David and his son have a family support worker to help them navigate special education resources. Because David is on disability, the staff have welcomed David as a classroom volunteer, and also encouraged him to join the Parent Policy Committee.

“Without Onward House, I wouldn’t have known these services were available, I’d still be watching YouTube videos to help him ,” David said. Together, David and his son practice the speech exercises they learn at Onward House when they go home. “He’s improving and I’m very excited to hear him – even when he says no,” David joked.

When David is ready to transition to Kindergarten, our staff will work with the new school to ensure that he is enrolled in services that support his needs. And of course, both will be welcomed into Onward House’s School Age program, which offers continued family support, and academic support for elementary school students.

Support our Annual Fund

Our programs are fine-tuned to address obstacles including: lack of access to affordable early childhood education, food insecurity, digital illiteracy, citizenship and language barriers. Many participants take advantage of more than one class or service.

Our doors have been open for over a century because of generous individuals who believe in our work and show their support by making a donation to Onward House.

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Mr & Mrs. C Become American Citizens

We would recommend other people to come to Onward because all of the people were very nice.

“We were passing by one day and decided to go in and asked if there were classes for citizenship…We benefited from Onward House because it didn’t cost us anything and we were provided with all the material needed in order to pass the exam. We loved the activities it was a pleasure coming to the cultural events that were held there they were great experiences. We would recommend other people to come to Onward because all of the people were very nice. We would like to thank the institution, teacher and employees.”

Winter Newsletter 2019

“I love this center because they treat my children like family…all of my children have been a part of this program.”

Friends,
Chicago is a world-class city built by immigrants. Since our founding in 1868, Onward Neighborhood House has been refuge and community center for hundreds of thousands of newcomers who left their home county and arrived in Chicago to work, open businesses, educate their children, and become American citizens. Our work continues to make that vision a
reality:

  • As the city of Chicago moves forward with universal pre-K, we will continue to provide early childhood education and expand our home-based program.
  • We recently launched The Bounce in Logan Square – an affordable yet highly-visible space for minority entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in a rapidly changing community. Our entrepreneurship incubator, The Lab, has had nearly 40 students complete business plans with the larger goal of building sustainable wealth and jobs in the community.
  • In today’s political climate we have stepped up to fear by partnering with agencies who can provide more in-depth legal guidance for those residents seeking to become citizens.
  • Next year we will use our resources to ensure that our community participates in the census so that no barrier – time, technology, or anxiety – will stop them from being counted.

Your support of our mission changes the lives of hundreds of families and individuals each year. From our new American citizen Efrain, to Evelyn, who knows when school is closed her child still has safe place to go, to the hundreds of families who use our food pantry to cover their most basic needs…Because of you we can help make the American dream a reality, not
just for immigrants, but anyone who seeks our support to thrive in our community.

Thanks to you, we will be here for them. Thank you for your support,

Mario F. Garcia
Executive Director, Onward House


“My son had a problem with his speech and his progress has become so much better for him and for me. This program has helped him to go to school.”


One Pizza Delivery Inspires a Career in Computers

“My name is James. I am Colombian and I immigrated to the United States with zero knowledge in computer science. I worked at Pizza Hut as a delivery driver and made a delivery to Onward House at 600 N. Leavitt St. where I learned that this wonderful place would change my life forever.

I had my first contact with a computer from Professor Mauricio Blanco. Mauricio taught me how to use the computer mouse, basic internet, and Microsoft Office. The knowledge that I acquired from then on was very important to apply for and enter university.

In 2011 I obtained a degree in AAS-CIS-Computer Hardware Information Systems. As thanks to Onward House, I volunteered in their computer classes, as I have also been a teacher in that area. I now work at the University of San Agustín in the area of Technical Support of Financial Support. My job is to keep the institution up-to-date with federal and state programs. Now I also have my BS-CIS Network Systems Administrator degree. My next project is to start the Master’s degree in Database Security in the spring of 2020. From the first day at Onward House, I set goals and today I can say they have been fulfilled.

I am very grateful to my teacher and friend Mauricio, Mr. Mario Garcia, and all the people there who help so much.

Thank you very much.”

James

To view photos of James and share this success story, click here.


2019 Program Highlights

Focus on Social-Emotional Wellness: Selected School-Age program
students took part in an 8-week improv-based pilot program with our
partner Poverty Alleviation Charities to help students build confidence
through meditation and improvisational theater games.
2020 Vision: We’re adding We Thinkers! social-emotional curriculum
enhancement to our Early Childhood Education program. This curriculum will give teachers new tools and learning experiences to help children with their behavior.


Support Services & Engagement: Our Food Pantry distributed 66,207 lbs
of food from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, plus additional donations of food from volunteers and partners.


Partnerships: We provided workshops on topics related to immigration,
immigration rights, and citizenship. We are responsive to community
needs through partnerships including Latinos Progresando for immigration workshops, Instituto Del Progresso Latino for Financial Literacy and Credit workshops, CTA for hiring events, City of Chicago for the City Key.
2020 Vision: A partnership with Healthcare Alternative Systems to
provide a part time mental health professional on-site for adult education students and parents so they can get the care in a trusted environment.


Workforce & Technology: Approximately 150 walk-ins were served with
technology access for specific needs, or connected to referrals for other
nonprofit partners. Overall, 1,027 individuals enrolled in our Adult
Education classes. Nearly 60 individuals participated in more than one
class, most commonly enrolling in English as a Second Language and
Computer Training. Data taken during enrollment indicates our students
earn an average income of $9,616, with 39% unemployed.
2020 Vision: Continue to partner with organizations who can provide
individual workshops and training to the community.


Entrepreneurship: Since our launch last year, ninety people have signed
up for The Lab, our entrepreneurship class, and 38 have completed their
business plan and pitched it to a panel of professionals for feedback, funding, and connections. Many have moved forward with their business
plans. In September, we launched the Bounce, a retail accelerator for those
ready for a highly visible, affordable retail space.
2020 Vision: Continue to address barriers to entrepreneurship. We will
place two additional businesses into The Bounce, and utilize the space for pop-up markets and other related events.

“What I like the most is that my kids are taken out on field trips and to the park and that they are also picked up from school.”


Save the Date! Night of Bright Futures Leap Day Gala

What will you do with your extra day? Onward House is
hosting its annual gala on Leap Day 2020! Join us for music,
dancing, food, and refreshments as we celebrate the power of people coming together to open doors to improve lives and uplift communities through our unique bend of services.

Saturday, February 29, 2020
7 PM at Revel Fulton Market
1215 W Fulton Market

Take the stress out of holiday shopping with gala tickets for friends and family while making a lasting impact on Onward House.
Individual tickets – $150
Tables of 8 – $1,200
Tables of 10 – $1,500
nightofbrightfutures.org


Host an Online Giving Tuesday Fundraiser December 3

The holiday season is the time Onward House receives the most donations for our annual fund, which supports our work throughout the year.
Use Facebook or sign-up for a personal fundraising page through our secure fundraising site, where friends and family can donate to Onward House.