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New Foundations Program Helps Connect People with Services They Need to Thrive

CHI trains volunteers to access assistance for our guests

In early 2022, we asked several of our partners who run community meals if they would offer their guests additional assistance— such as helping fill out applications for a government ID, emergency housing, Medicaid and SNAP enrollment, getting a subsidized cell phone and transit passes—similar to what our volunteers provide at our weekly meals. Many of them said yes.

And so we launched our New Foundations Program.

Led by our CHI social worker Gwen McElhattan, a core group of volunteers are now providing that assistance weekly at eight locations across the city.

Our ultimate goal is that one day, every church, synagogue, mosque, community center and library in Chicago won’t have to send someone who needs this help, somewhere else to get it. They’ll be able to say, “Sure, we can help you with that. Have a seat right here and let’s get it done!”

Want to become a New Foundations volunteer? We are especially seeking Spanish-speaking volunteers though we welcome anyone who has a few hours weekly or monthly to devote to helping guide our guests through the application process for assistance. No experience required; we will train you!

Please contact us at

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Did you know?

30% of Chicago’s homeless population suffers from mental illness.

They help us with food, social services. Nothing but love, that’s how I feel about the Chicago Help Initiative.”