A Nonprofit Helping Families Solve Their Issues in Chicago

Big cities are great places to live in but they also have major issues to deal with. As one of the biggest cities in the United States, Chicago is not the exception to this statement. Statistics show that some Chicagoans are starving, others are victims of abuse or come from a broken family. Many nonprofits work to address some of the most pressing issues from different perspectives. Yosef Meystel knows that there is one nonprofit in particular that works helping families in need throughout the Chicago area and it is called Jewish Child & Family Services (JCFS).


Image courtesy of Jewish Child & Family Services at jcfs.org

JCFS has been working for Chicagoans for over 160 years. It is a nonprofit organization committed to guiding families in the Chicago area that need help solving their crisis and pressing issues. All services provided by JCFS are based on Jewish values, which aim to strengthen the lives involved in local communities. Also, the organization is partner with some charitable foundations in Illinois such as the Jewish United Fund of Chicago, Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care, and the Center for Independent Futures

Regardless your background or religion JCFS wants everyone to know that they are not alone with their struggle and anguish. They can always count on the support of the JCFS’ highly skilled staff members, which are always willing to provide community members with advice, training, and solutions to care for children, teens, older adults and their families. This way, JCFS has given its support to over 26,000 people each year, having a positive impact on its community.

JCFS as an organization counts with a strategic plan that aims to have a positive impact in Chicago within the next three years. Over 1,000 stakeholders participated in the development of this plan, including clients, staff, board, donors, volunteers, and Chicago community members.

Who Can Be Helped by JCFS?

The answer is simple: anyone! JCFS is there for all Chicagoans who need support. No matter if you are dealing with autism, a cognitive problem, or even alcoholism, JCFS is always going to be there to offer support with advanced illnesses, special training, and education, counseling for individuals or families, among other initiatives.

According the owner of residential homes and philanthropist, it is a matter of engagement and reciprocity. JCFS only asks its members to engage with the programs and volunteer helping others, this way you can contribute to the growth of the organization and guarantee there is going to be there for you in case you need it. It is all about transformational change conducted by the same members of the community that understand its needs and care about solving them.

JCFS offers a wide variety of programs based on the diversity of its members. They can offer to counsel and care for abused and neglected youth, as well as therapy for adults and children who have dealt with traumatic experiences or difficult circumstances. Also, JCFS offers support services for people with disabilities and their caregivers or families, among other services such as general counseling, special education, grief counseling and special education.

The organization’s talented staff is prepared to help children and their families regardless their religion, ethnicity, color, national origin, gender or sexual orientation. Everyone is welcomed to participate in inclusive activities and camps, support one another and engage with an organization that is always willing to help families in the Chicago area.


Image courtesy of fivehanks at Flickr.com

Mission and Values

Jewish Child & Family Services aims to provide adults, children, and families with vital, results-driven, supportive, individualized and therapeutic services. No matter the background, each year the organizations is committed to helping individuals facing challenges with mental health, life transitions, basic human needs and any type of disability.

For this reason, the organization’s statement is to provide the necessary conditions to anyone in the community in order to make it stronger while helping it with its problems. This powerful statement is the one that impulses JCFS to become the best connection to get trusted and innovative care.

JCFS values are based on Jewish values and are oriented to care for life in a responsible way. The words Tikkun Olam refer to the idea of repairing the world and making it more perfect. This is one of the most important values for the organization, which aims to create a model society, responsible for the welfare of every human being. This means contributing to social justice, helping others heal and care for them.

The process of ensuring that the mental health needs of the community are addressed and that the organization is going to do everything that is at hand to do its best for its clients and members are also some of the core values of JCFS.   

The main mission is to always strive for excellence while supporting, protecting and nurturing families in Chicago. It is necessary to understand what families are going through in order to be able to help them. Always keeping in mind that communities are essential to living and for this reason, it is vital to keep them healthy and strengthen



Chicago Women in Philanthropy: bringing women together towards a common goal

We have already written about many charities in the Chicago area. Some of them that aim at helping animals, giving shelter to people or handing out food for the homeless. Chicago is a striving city for charities due to the aid that people and the community give to these types of institutions and to the impact they have in their communities and the city.

Well, following that same line, we are going to talk about a charity in the Chicago area that groups women towards a common goal. It cannot be considered a charity itself, but it does unite women in Chicago who are helping others through charities, events, fundraisings and many other strategies to help people.

Their name is Chicago Women In Philanthropy and this is their story and how they are making women come together to share, learn and design strategies to benefit other women and girls.

Their story started 35 years ago in the year 1981 when Kris Krieg and Joy Beaton realized there was a need to gather women around the philanthropy topic. The idea was to give women a space in the community where they could get together and create and propose initiatives to help other women and girls. They went to name their meetings the Chicago Women in Philanthropy (CWIP).

In a sense, the Chicago Women In Philanthropy community is a group of philanthropic, corporate-giving, and non-profit women that aim at helping other women and girls advance in society. Their goal is to motivate and support women philanthropy in the Chicago area and provide a space where the community can gather around the topic of philanthropy and women needs in order to create uncommon connections that can then have a positive impact in women and girls of all ages.

They have many other goals and objectives like supporting the gender lens which is a tool that makes it easier to allocate funds for women, girls, women based institutions, programs that help women and girls and organizations that aim at helping women; making funders, individuals, government and the companies aware of how to manage their fund allocation and if the real needs are being met; measuring and reading the results in order to reach more people and to correctly inform about funding activities.

They also support a networking association that connects funders and non-profits so they can reach and help as many people possible; the also connect professional women that are part of the non-profit community by inviting them to events, parties, reunions, meetings, lectures, panels, and fundraisers.

Apart from this, they are always on the look for new leaders in the community and how they can improve their knowledge and skills. They also aim at helping young, emerging, female leaders of the non-profit community so they can reach their full potential and impact the community as a whole.

For this purpose, they have the technical assistance program that also helps non-profits to do a better job and deliver better results. They also Advocate for better and accurate funding for women and girls’ programs and charities and they provide a warm, caring and open environment where all the members can share their ideas, learn about each other, mentor, exchange information and socialize with their peers.

Apart from providing a space for the philanthropic community in Chicago, they have some programs to reach out to women and help them out in their path of life:

  • CWIP’s Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program (WLMP). This program lasts for 1 years and the idea is to pair women who are studying with women leaders in the business and philanthropic sector in Chicago. The program has two components: emerging leaders and mid-career leaders. The emerging leader program aims at women when they are starting their career and the goal is to encourage individual professional development, do networking, and to motivate women to continue with their path in the non-profit sector. On the other hand, the mid-career leaders program aims at women who are in the middle of their careers and want to have guidance on topics such as job skills, the management hierarchy, and how to be a great influence for people on the job and in the community.

Image courtesy of Intel Free Press at Flickr.com

  • Advocacy programs:  the CWIP works towards promoting programs and reach out to issues that women and girls face. They create a great deal of public awareness and dialogues through relationship building, education and research.
  • Networking Forums: the CWIP offers a wide variety of networking and professional development opportunities everybody. Apart from their very well-known Annual Membership Meeting and Annual Luncheon they host several more events during the year to connect non-profits and grant making professionals.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Be sure to also read this post on Chicago Cares, one of the most important non-profits in the Chicago area.

Know one of the best allies for Jews in Chicago

Since 1964, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs has worked for Chicago community fighting against discrimination and anti-Semitism. This non-profit organization has been for more than 50 years a great ally for Jewish and other people in Chicago, working with several neighborhoods from the city to promote human rights and battle against different social problems, like poverty or violence. The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs gives support to those needed persons with transport, food, shelter, education, employment, among other aids.


Image courtesy of JCUA at jcua.org


The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs also known as the JCUA was founded by Rabbi Robert Marx, who was the Midwest Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and focused a lot of his efforts in the creation of many social programs, like the JCUA. For his work and the support of other social and religious leaders, the organization raised and was established as an independent institution.

Some years later, the organization growth, including more staff and involving more people in its social programs. With its expansion, The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs included more social organizations to work and support its initiatives.

Through its history, the JCUA has achieved a lot of things, like its association with the Contract Buyers League for helping people to get home with fair prices, or its alliance with the West Side Federation, working for the construction of houses for people with limited resources.

By the 1970s, the JCUA joined with the Westtown Concerned Citizen Coalition and the Voter Registration to fight against Hispanic discrimination and their social rights in the community. By 2000s, the organization started the Synagogue Initiative to establish better relations with all those synagogue partners, creating a great strategy to support social problems among synagogue members.

The mentioned alliances and initiatives above are just a small sample of what the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs has done for Chicago society. Through years, this institution has founded more than 100 social programs and create more than 50 alliances, helping a lot of people in multiple critic situations.

Projects and initiatives

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs has a lot of active projects to help the community in different situations. These plans are involving more and more people in Chicago for these admirable campaigns.

One of the most important and remarkable promotions was the Anti-Wage Theft Campaign, which was fighting against the wage theft for workers in many Chicago industries. This practice was considered an abusive and exploitation practice for employees, so the JCUA focused a lot of its energies to eradicate this working condition. In 2015, thanks to the JCUA and other social organizations, a legislation for better-working conditions against the wage theft was signed, offering to workforces a fairer contract.

Another important battle that the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs has fought is for the immigrants’ rights. This has been one of its most important projects, because, through it, immigrants can have better lives, more justice, and fairer opportunities. Besides, through this plan, they can be more informed about their privileges and duties.

The JCUA has created an excellent information pack for immigrants called CIR Advocacy Toolkits. With them, immigrants can learn about Chicago’s legislation and what the city offers to them in terms of justice, rights and responsibilities. Moreover, these toolkits show them how to access to working and education opportunities, which can improve in a greater way their life quality.

As it was mentioned before, the JCUA battles intensely against racial discrimination, promoting human rights and their application, so supporting immigrants is one of its priorities, because their situation may be vulnerable and susceptible for human rights violation.

These two cited initiatives are some of the most important strategies for the institution, but there are some others like the Trauma Care Campaign, which is a medical project for low incomes people who need medical assistance, or the campaign to increase the city’s budget for social programs.


Image courtesy of Leib Tropper at Flickr.com

Image https://flic.kr/p/dY9nt9 courtesy of Leib Tropper

Jewish-Muslim relationship

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs seeks also the integration between multiple faiths and creeds. An amazing program they have is the Jewish-Muslim Community Building. With this strategy, the JCUA helps to strengthen the relation between Jewish and Muslim people in Chicago.

This admirable program finds common problems both in Jewish and Muslim communities, so people from these religions can solve them together. Besides, the JCUA promotes the alliances between Jewish and Muslim organizations with similar purposes, letting them help society with multiple alternatives and in a unified way.

The union between Jews and Muslims is also helping immigrants from these and other religions to have better living conditions, due to their mutual work and the promotion of their rights and living possibilities in Chicago. In other words, these union initiatives are not only strengthening the Jewish and Muslim interactions but also are helping immigrants and other needed people to get better existing opportunities in the windy city.

Related: An admirable Chicago Jewish foundation you need to know by Yosef Meystel

Alzheimer´s Association, the greater Illinois chapter and their work

This time we are going to talk about an association that is helping Alzheimer patients live a better and more productive life. The Alzheimer´s Association operates all over United States and has many chapters, one for each state approximately. For this occasion we are also going to analyze the Greater Illinois chapter and their vision, mission and what they are all about and how are they working towards the Chicago community.

To better understand this association and its work, lets firs define Alzheimer as an important and common disease among human beings: Alzheimer is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. This disease is directly related with age as it is seen as a normal part of aging because the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But don’t be fooled. Alzheimer can also have early symptoms and appear before the age of 60. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Their story started in 1979 when Jerome H. Stone and representatives from several family support groups met with the National Institute on Aging to explore the value of a national, independent, nonprofit organization to support and to complement federal efforts done to understand, improve and address Alzheimer’s disease. That meeting resulted in the April 10, 1980, formation of the Alzheimer’s Association. Since then, they have worked all across the globe to reach millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s using their chapters and agreements with different associations in the world. In the United States they use the national office and chapters in communities to spread the good energy of their charity work.

The Alzheimer’s Association works around 3 pillars for their patients:

1 . Enhance care and support:

The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias by providing caregivers and families with comprehensive online resources and information through their Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center, helping people find clinical studies through their free, easy-to-use matching service: Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch® and by connecting people across the globe through their online message boards, ALZConnected®.

2. They focus on advance research:  

As the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research, the Association is committed to accelerating the global progress of new treatments, preventions and ultimately, a cure. They use a program called “peer-reviewed research grant program” where they have invested more than $350 million in more than 2,300 scientific investigations since 1982. They also bring together many researchers to report on ground breaking studies on their annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC)®

3. They advocate:

The Association is the leading voice for Alzheimer’s disease advocacy, fighting for critical Alzheimer’s research, prevention and care initiatives at the state and federal level.  They work towards making Alzheimer a national trend topic and to make the disease a national priority. They also do a great and important job by developing policy resources, including Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures and Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer’s Disease, to educate decision makers on the economic and emotional toll that Alzheimer’s takes on families and the nation.

As it was said before, the Alzheimer´s Association is divided into chapters. The Greater Illinois Chapter serves 68 counties in Illinois with offices in Bloomington, Carbondale, Chicago, Joliet, Rockford and Springfield. Since 1980, the Chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes. Today, the Greater Illinois Chapter serves more than a half million Illinois residents affected by Alzheimer’s disease, including 210,000 people with the disease.

The Greater Illinois chapter launched in 2015 the Community Engagement program. This program allows the association to target specific communities with their locations and needs. With this, the association can design tailor made programs and identify, assess, and coordinate effective and holistic partnerships with targeted groups such as African Americans, Hispanics community and many more. In addition, the efforts in the Community Engagement program allow the Greater Illinois Chapter to identify diverse groups that are specific to the Chapter’s territory and that meet their established criteria.

They also have support Groups that are designed to provide emotional, educational and social support for caregivers through regularly scheduled meetings. They help participants develop coping methods and encourage caregivers to maintain their personal, physical and emotional health. They also have specialized groups for adult children or spouses, groups for people in the early stages, and groups for caregivers caring for someone in the late stages.

Do you want to know more about Chicago Charities? Take a look at this article