“You need HELP when you need help.” That’s how someone who truly understands the need for help explained the reality of being homeless.

Carlos Duany spoke this morning at a news conference in Evanston, along with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and advocates for the homeless. The number of individuals experiencing homelessness and food insecurity has increased significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Toni Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle announced that the $50,000 goal of private donations to buy food for those needing assistance in Evanston has been met. Preckwinkle praised businesses that contributed funds for “showing a willingness to step up for the community in its time of greatest need.” The agency Connections for the Homeless administers the program.

The money will feed 60 people who are being housed temporarily. The meal program actually began in November with $30,000 from Cook County. The current donations will extend lunch and dinner delivery five days a week through the end of February.

Besides helping the homeless, the meal program also aids local restaurants which have been hammered by the coronavirus-related economic downturn. The meals are purchased from several local eateries. Chef Q. Ibraheem, whose private party catering business folded when the pandemic hit, said, “When we got the call to feed residents it was a no brainer.”

Duany, one of those residents, said Connections for the Homeless as well as those contributing for the meal program have been a “godsend.”

Major donors for this public/private/non-profit partnership include Byline Bank, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Rotary International, the Lewis Sebring Family Foundation, former mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Joe Flanagan, Chair of the Cook County Health Foundation.

The announcement of reaching the funding goal was held at the Lake Street Church, where Connections for the Homeless was founded 36 years ago.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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