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Townhall Guest Speaker, Evelyn Figueroa

 Figueroa Wu Family Foundation:

  1. How has COVID 19 impacted your community?
    Like other social service organizations, the Pilsen Food Pantry has sustained an 50% increase in demand since mid-March. Since Latinx and Black people are a significant part of Chicago’s essential workforce, they have struggled disproportionately with unsafe working conditions and layoffs.
  2. How has your organization responded to the community need?
    From initial challenges locating food to recruiting enough staff and volunteers to expanding our anti-poverty services, it has certainly been a marathon. Since March we have adjusted hours twice (first to decrease outside congregation, then to add back late day hours for working families), started a home delivery program (for homebound seniors, disabled clients, and people with COVID), and added other antipoverty services such as a free clothing program, free medical supply program, and case management by social work interns. Of course, we have also passed out hundreds of cloth masks and COVID prevention information.
  3. What have we learned through this pandemic? Are there any lessons learned/advice that you can share?
    Great question. The power of social media is incredible. We rely on it heavily to recruit clients, volunteers, fundraise, and network. It is also saddening that people are still confused about COVID’s spread (I guess that is also due to the power of social media).
  4. Can you mention a powerful and inspiring example that demonstrates community resilience?
    I advertised a clothing drive to help the COVID units I was running at Pacific Garden Mission homeless shelter on a Thursday and 4 days later people came out in droves to support it – we received over 8000 pounds of clothing in three hours. After George Floyd’s murder we conducted a baby supply drive for the Auburn Gresham neighborhood and 17 pallets of donations came in, mainly within two weeks. People really want to help but need logistical support.

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