Across Chicago, many households are celebrating that their families are fully vaccinated. Sadly, the effects of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. The memories of displaced jobs, social isolation and lost loved ones are too fresh to forget. The economic ramifications of job losses will linger in our communities. The grief and burden of a loved one passing may never truly go away. However, our ability to endure, adapt and overcome the pandemic is what makes Chicagoans who they are. No one deserves as much credit for their resiliency as essential workers.

The essential worker is the single parent who delivered your packages. The essential worker is the exhausted nurse who worked 12-hour shifts without taking a break. The essential worker is the debt-ridden graduate student who made sure there was food on the shelves at grocery stores. Essential workers ensured the rest of us could live our lives safely, so we had to do our part to support them.

United Way of Metro Chicago’s 10 Neighborhood Networks and their partners were on the ground providing targeted support to tackle emergencies. Our Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund placed millions of dollars into the hands of the networks to ensure they supported essential workers and the challenges they faced. Here are a few of those stories:

  • Alongside neighborhood partners, Auburn Gresham Development Corporation delivered 20,000 masks in one week.
  • With help from United Way and the Black Entertainment Network, Teamwork Englewood supported 150 families with cash assistance, 200 families with food support, and placed 100 families into new jobs paying a living wage.
  • My Block My Hood My City saved seniors 2,000 trips to the grocery store, provided 50,000 meals, distributed PPE to 2,000 households, and made wellness calls to 2,000 senior households.

Thank you to the countless essential workers who sacrificed so much over the last year to keep Chicagoans safe.