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Success Stories

StreetWise Features CHI’s Services to Combat Hunger, Homelessness

Streetwise magazine Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Hanney gets up close and personal with The Chicago Help Initiative. Her touching cover story for the January 24, 2022 edition of the weekly magazine shows how CHI not only feeds bodies, but also minds and souls. The feature includes interviews with CHI Founder Jacqueline Hayes and people CHI serves.

(Pictured on the cover is Jean Eisenman, long-time CHI volunteer and member of the CHI Board of Directors, tying up our to-go bag meals to distribute to our guests).

Streetwise is now among the social services offered by the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. Learn more about how you can support Streetwise and its self-employed “micropreneur” vendors.

Read on for an excerpt from the story.

Sitting at the Chicago Help Initiative’s (CHI) Wednesday night dinner, Big Mama, a familiar face on Michigan Avenue, says she is living her best life.

Big Mama was first housed with a cousin and her husband in the south suburbs nine years ago, but she still comes to CHI’s weekly meal program because she connects to her friends and other programs there. She had a poem printed with the Poetry Foundation and prose, “The Age of Coronavirus,” published by Red Line Service. As part of CHI’s Arts & Culture program, she recently went to see “Fannie” and “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre.

“I would never have had this exposure,” she says of the Near North Side dinners. “At this point in my life [her 60s], it’s given me a reason to be.”

CHI brings the best of Chicago to people who are homeless or low-income. During the pandemic, CHI expanded its work to assist organizations that were no longer able to serve hot meals. Instead of its usual 130 guests at whiteclothed tables with an additional 70 meals to go, CHI attracted donations from over 500 points of contact – enough to deliver up to 5,000 bag lunches weekly to 22 locations all over the city – churches, shelters and senior meal programs. It received Chicago Innovation Awards’ COVID-19 Response Award on Dec. 7, 2021.

Read the entire article.

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Did you know?


of the people we serve are military service veterans.

Nobody should go hungry. With the Chicago Help Initiative, you don’t have to.”