Dear Nourishing Hope friends and supporters,
Here we are again, at the precipice of another year brimming with challenges, both known and unknown.
And yet, I’m feeling hopeful as 2023 fades into the past.
I’m often reminded of the quote by the late great civil rights icon and lawmaker, John Lewis.
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair,” Lewis said. “Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, a year. It is the struggle of a lifetime.”
He went on to encourage making “good trouble, necessary trouble,” which feels like a perfect battle cry for the year 2024. First though, as is my annual tradition, I’d like to take stock of some of our top accomplishments in 2023.
This Nourishing Hope community gives me the courage to feel hopeful. You — our incredible staff, who show up each day with compassion and determination. You — our volunteers, who selflessly give so much of your time in service of others. And you — our donors and partners, without whom we simply couldn’t do this work.
You give me the courage to feel hopeful, against all odds.
Without further ado, here are our top ten accomplishments of 2023 (presented in no particular order).
- Provided 200K services. In 2023, we provided more than 200,000 food and social services to Chicagoans in need. Each time someone receives food from us, or receives mental health counseling, or is connected to job or housing assistance — that counts as a service. And the impact from each service ripples out to build hope in our community.
- Served a rising need. Our service levels continued to rise in 2023. And yet, as a community, we rose to the moment and served about 25% more people than we did last year. We served double the number of families with children from just two years ago. Why such an increase? It was the combination of several factors, including the continued heightened food prices, diminished federal assistance, and the influx of migrants and asylum seekers to Chicago. Thank you to our donors for making it possible.
- Won a transformative award! In October, Nourishing Hope was awarded the first ever Northern Trust Anchor Award, a $1 million grant to grow our impact on the South and West Sides over the next three years. It’s the largest grant in our 53-year history. Specifically, the grant is focused on growing partnerships and capacity to serve more young people, ages 16 to 24 years old. Stay tuned for more details in the year to come!
- Gave out SO MANY turkeys. This holiday season, we distribute more than 3,700 turkeys! We also provided more than 3,300 whole chickens, 1,800 hams and pork tenderloins and about 2,000 Cornish hens. The reason is simple: We believe everyone should have the opportunity to have a special holiday meal with loved ones. Thank you to all of our annual Turkey Fund donors for helping us provide holiday food.
- Grew our mental health work. In 2023, our growing team of mental health therapists provided more than 2,500 mental health services — in English, Spanish and Polish. They also established counseling groups for our Spanish-speaking neighbors as well as for LGBTQ+ clients, expanding our reach to serve even more diverse communities.Just a few years ago, we had only one therapist. Today, we have a team of 10 mental health clinicians. We believe so much in this life-changing work.
- Provided hope for tomorrow. Meanwhile, our dedicated social services team connects people to jobs, housing and public benefits. In 2023, we provided more than 4,000 total social services, including more than 1,200 housing services to connect people to their new homes. We also helped connect people to meaningful job opportunities, providing more than 400 career services. This is what we mean when we say: “Food for today and hope for tomorrow.”
- Supported by The Greatest Volunteers of All Time™. You might already know this, but our volunteers are actually the greatest. That’s just a fact. In 2023, more than 6,600 volunteers gave 85,000 hours of their time to serving our neighbors in need. On any given day, our volunteers are serving people at our food pantries, driving groceries directly to the homes of elders and people with disabilities, and gleaning and packing food. That’s truly amazing. We could not do this work without our amazing volunteers.
- Threw an epic party. Our Nourishing Hope Gala was a smashing success! We raised more than $1 million, surpassing our fundraising goal for the evening, all funds towards our mission of providing food and hope for people in need. It was the largest fundraiser in our organization’s history. And we don’t like to brag, but we also think it was the best gala of the year. Save the date for next year’s Nourishing Hope Gala on Friday, Sept. 20! We hope to see you there!
- Made new friends. We continue to grow new partnerships throughout the city as we grow to serve more people in need. Check out our friends from the North Lawndale Employment Network (pictured). In 2023, we added five new partners through our home delivery service, online market program, and Health and Hope. With the support of the Northern Trust Anchor Award, we’ll be adding 20 new partners over the next three years — starting with an online market partnership with the South Side YMCA in January.
- Won a fancy award for our rebrand. As you all know, we rebranded last year — from Lakeview Pantry to Nourishing Hope. This fall, our rebrand was honored with a Golden Trumpet Award from the Publicity Club of Chicago, the most prestigious marketing awards in the Midwest. We were honored by the acknowledgement considering all of the time, careful planning and collaborative work that went into our rebrand.
In closing, I just want to say that I’m proud of what we accomplished together. Each year, no matter the crisis, our community steps up, pitches in, gets involved and gives back. It inspires me to no end. Thank you.
Now, let’s keep up the good work in 2024 — maybe even make some “good trouble,” too.
CEO, Nourishing Hope