When we think about Jews, usually we imagine a bunch of rich families who own an endless list of successful businesses. Most of us don’t imagine that there are some members of the Jewish community who also have to deal with difficult situations and really need help from their community.
Lucky for Jews in Chicago –and humanity, in general- there is a foundation dedicated to helping them no matter the background they come from. The ARK is a non-profit organization aiming to act as a human services agency offering different types of aids to Jews who are living in unsafe or difficult conditions.
The organization helps more than 4.000 people from all over the Chicago metropolitan area, offering individuals and families social and medical services in one place. Always working under the philosophy given by Jewish traditions, the ARK’s main goal is to assist their clients so they can live in a more stable situation, achieving a fair degree of self-sufficiency.
Both Yosef Meystel and the ARK know that every person counts and deserves to be treated with kindness, love, respect and empathy. For this reason, the organization bases its mission in creating a safe place for Jews in need in Chicago by helping one at the time. Providing a model of unity for all Jews based on their tradition, high professional standards, and volunteer work.
A Brief History of the ARK
In 1970, a group of young Jewish leader gathered together to ask their community for a medical center that didn’t charge its patients. Dr. Binyomin Sokol, and his friend Rabbi Avraham Kaufman decided to seat and have a conversation with these Jewish leaders and understood why they were petitioning such an idealist thing and started to wonder if it was possible. After asking themselves many questions and talking to other fellow doctors and Jews, they decided to support the cause, only if it was based on their Biblical ethics and was indeed meant to address the needs of those Jews living in distress and their families.
During the 1970’s many violent events took place, harming the wellbeing of almost every middle to low class community in Chicago and its metropolitan area. For this reason, creating an organization dedicated to offering free medical services was a vital matter. This is how the ARK was founded in 1971 as a free medical clinic, operating on a second-floor suite.
Short after the ARK opened, different individuals started working for the project. Volunteers made their contribution and both Doctors and social workers started working for the non-profit with the only goal of serving and helping people who were suffering or living in poor conditions. This work continued along the year and helped the ARK grow and become what it is today: a service agency caring for thousands of Jews in Chicago, One by One.
Working For the Northwest Community
Poverty is a situation that can affect any individual regardless of its religion or background. It is a serious issue that affects a considerable amount of people in all the Chicagoland. Jews are not exempt of living under difficult circumstances, special in the village of Northbrook where poverty is a palpable pressing issue.
Due to this situation, the ARK opened an office in Northbrook, dedicated to serving hundreds of people every year who live in Chicago’s northern suburban communities and need someone to give them a hand. Services in this office include a food pantry, job counseling, rent and utility assistance, case management, provision of medication from the ARK’s pharmacy, transportation to the ARK’s office and other needed services.
The Northbrook office is located at 3100 Dundee Road, Suite 802 (in the Dundee Place Corporate Center, corner of Dundee and Landwehr) and opens from Monday to Friday. To visit its website you can click here.
Services and volunteering opportunities
As a non-profit organization, the ARK relies only on volunteer work. People of all ages from all the Chicagoland Jewish Community are invited to become part of this wonderful organization, contributing with their skills and talents. Also, the ARK offers volunteering alternatives for families with young children.
If you have the will but not the time, you can donate food to the ARK’s food pantry. By clicking here you will find a shopping list with the most needed items. This way you will be helping the organization with the food they need in order to help other, One by One. It is important to notice that the ARK supplies its clients with kosher food and items that can’t be bought with food stamps, like soap, toilet paper, diapers and toothpaste to over 550 families in all the Chicagoland every month.
Volunteers from all medical backgrounds are always needed by the organization, so it can provide high-quality medical services. Volunteer physicians, psychiatrists, optometrists, physical therapists, and dentists are needed to address the need of the ARS’s clients. Social workers and counselor are also important to care for the organization’s patients.
There are different clinics and health centers which offer their facilities to care for the ARK’s patients. The Goldie Bachmann Luftig Health Center, the Minnie and Dr. Peter H. Okner, D.D.S., Dental Clinic and the Judge John & Effie Ziegler Gutknecht Eye Clinic are only some of the specialist offices dedicated to volunteer for the organization, providing high-quality services and equipment to better suit the need of patients.