To celebrate the holidays this year, Propllr is donating to the following nine organizations – one chosen by each member of the team.
Clay: Chicago House
Chicago House helps people who are displaced because of their HIV/AIDS status, LGBTQ, or gender nonconformity. I'm lucky because my family is very accepting, but there are many out there whose families are not. Unfortunately a lot of those people end up being kicked out of their homes, and a lot of them end up homeless (40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT). Chicago House helps these marginalized people get back on their feet and gives them a lot of hope that life can and does get better.
Both my grandparents on my mom's side worked with elderly and retired adults in Woodson County, Kansas, throughout their careers. I wanted to support an organization that helps in similar ways here in Chicago. Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly organizes visiting programs, seasonal parties, vacation experiences, and weekly clubs for older adults, helping them combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. All programs are free, and they serve about 1,400 clients. Average age? Eighty-three years young.
Hunter: Urban Gateways
Urban Gateways is a local Chicago nonprofit that helps young people in the city get involved in the arts and media. They have programs like the “Teen Arts Pass,” which lets Chicago kids (aged 13 – 19) see local shows, plays, museums, and more for just $5 a pop. Urban Gateways also runs Street Level Youth Media, which teaches local teens how to use digital tools to tell stories and share ideas. I was an instructor in this program earlier this year, and really loved all the people I met!
Erica: Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is an environmental organization that protects and preserves the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches. What I appreciate most about Surfrider is its commitment to supporting local communities close to bodies of water (like Surfrider Northern Michigan, in my home state, that’s standing up against the Line 5 oil pipeline). Volunteers through Surfrider participate in beach cleanups, clean water monitoring, and ocean protection and coastal preservation. Their work has a direct impact on the health of animals in the ocean and our access to clean water.
Most of my family works in the medical field, so we’re all very passionate about people getting the healthcare they need. Often, children need to travel to faraway hospitals to get treated, which means that their families need to take time off of work and travel with them. Ronald McDonald House provides housing and support for families whose children are being treated so that they can stay together at such a critical time.
Jorie: New Moms
New Moms offers job training, housing and family support to young mothers. All of the women who use New Moms’ resources come from extreme poverty and many come from homes where previous generations were young mothers. My mom teaches at a school for teen parents in Florida, so this is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. This is an organization that’s not only helping young mothers, but also doing its part to secure the next generation’s future.
My entire family (other than myself) works in elementary education and has since I can remember. My mom and sister both teach in low-income areas where most children are homeless and / or living near poverty and they’ve seen first hand how hard it impacts families. So it has been a passion in our family to help provide for families in need. In the Chicagoland area, one in three kids is living in poverty. Cradles to Crayons provides these kids with necessities like winter clothes, shoes, school supplies, and books to help Chicago communities overcome the impact of poverty on kids.
This organization uses donations of frequent flyer miles and cash to purchase flights (and pay for taxes and fees) to get refugees and asylees where they need to be. It’s a volunteer-powered group that partners with other nonprofits to carry out the work of transporting people around the world. I’m a fan in part because the volunteers make a point to let donors know whom their donations help, which is powerful – seeing people reunited with their families helps keep in perspective how impactful even small donations can be.
This is going to be short and sweet. The holidays should be a time when we celebrate and defend the persecuted, not the persecutors. The ACLU is a tireless watchdog that all Americans need today.