What Inspires Us

Our staff was recently posed the following question: “What’s inspiring you these days?” We’re all fortunate enough to be able to carry out our work from home, but many of our partners and colleagues are at the frontlines.  We’re thinking of them, especially, as we contemplate what’s uplifting and challenging us as the uncertainty of COVID 19 profoundly changes our communities seemingly every day.

Some of these are fun and funny, others more serious. We hope you draw inspiration as well from what our staff has shared below.


One of our GAPA partner organizations, IMAN, has been doing care package distribution of food and other needed items in their neighborhoods each week since the shelter in place order went into effect. Food insecurity is a longstanding challenge in the communities IMAN works with, but COVID-19 is making this issue even more salient. Ramadan is a time for reflection and prayer and community, and IMAN’s work during this crisis, which is now overlapping with the month of Ramadan, is inspiring me, too, to reflect and connect to community.

Their website has two blog posts about it: here and here. And the Chicago Tribune highlighted IMAN’s work at the beginning of April. Folks can support this awesome work as part of IMAN’s Ramadan Drive Goal.” -Hillary Chutter-Ames


“Besides the unfailing persistence of BPI’s program staff in carrying out its work during today’s harsh circumstances, I’m inspired by our undaunted health care workers and first responders. I’m also inspired by the many professional entertainers who are providing us with relief from chronic COVID-19 exhaustion. They sing, they dance, they make us laugh, lift our spirits, and prepare us to head back into “battle.” They refresh us and push us to do better with ourselves, our families, our friends, our co-workers, and the common good. Thank you to all of you wonderful doctors, nurses, caregivers, hospital workers, and first responders—and those of you who sing and dance for your supper!” -Marissa Manos


“It was cool to hear that our Altgeld-Riverdale Adolescent Parenting Program doula did a virtual birth with a client since she wasn’t allowed to be in the hospital!” -Susannah Levine


Photo courtesy CHA’s Facebook page

The work that is inspiring me is the work of the property managers and service providers in mixed income housing.  The activities vary a bit from site to site, but in addition to addressing difficult COVID 19 related property management, rent issues and security issues:

  • they are calling elderly and otherwise more at risk residents frequently (sometimes daily) to make sure they are ok, and checking in with everyone;
  • they are having extended conversations with residents who may just be lonely;
  • they are delivering food and care packages (with things to read and puzzles and the like);
  • they are providing packages with masks and hand sanitizer and coloring books for children.

They are among the frontline workers we need to thank for taking care of everyone else.” -Julie Brown


“It’s hard a to think of a time with so much inspiration everywhere you look—from selfless frontline healthcare and vital service workers to families struggling daily to keep afloat in really tough circumstances to organizations stretching to the limit to help and to the advocates who are front and center challenging the raging inequities COVID-19 has highlighted. Chicago’s foundation community stepped in fast and expansively, providing exceptional leadership and support. Dedication, courage, ingenuity, will, and spirit all around us. I’m inspired—and challenged—by all of these folks. They’ve significantly raised the bar on doing your part for all of us.” -Ellen Elias


“A few things that have been inspiring me are:

  • The release of incarcerated people in light of COVID-19 has been inspiring me to push for the release of many more. This crisis has forced folks to recognize that prisons are fraught with inadequate healthcare and severe overcrowding. I am inspired by their decision to act and hope to see them begin acting with even more urgency.
  • Mutual aid efforts bringing together unexpected allies have been inspiring me to think more creatively about my work and problem-solving, in general.
  • A brand new pair of rollerblades has been inspiring me to get outside – and dig up some of my favorite ’90s music!
  • The odds and ends that had been pushed to the back of my pantry long ago are now inspiring me to try new recipes and improvise with available ingredients; the result is (usually) a great dish and a lot of gratitude for all that I do have access to during the stay-at-home.” -Ashton Hoselton

I’ve been inspired by people recovering from COVID-19, especially those who are able to come off ventilators.  SGN – Some Good News is a YouTube “show” hosted by John Krasinski, who highlights good news and inspiring stories from around the world, which always brings a smile to my face.” -Artishia Hunter

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