Propllr Gives Back 2021 (or, PropllrMatch250™)

It’s that time of year when Propllr Gives Back.

Or, if I were better at branding, it’s time for PropllrMatch250™!

Propllr has made contributions to deserving organizations every year, but in 2020 we changed things up a bit, matching every employee donation up to $250.

It was a great experience, as it’s fun and rewarding to support the organizations my team cares so much about.

So we’re doing it again this year!

Please take a few minutes to review who the team supported, and hopefully you’ll be moved to do the same.

Happy Holidays!

Josh and the Propllr Team

Propllr Gives Back: 2021 Recipients

Jack McHugh – The Greater Chicago Food Depository

I'm supporting the Greater Chicago Food Depository this year. They serve as a central hub for more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in Cook County, and they also work directly with schools and low-income senior residences to get nutritional food to people who don't always get it. There are a few locations in my neighborhood, and I wanted to give a small gift that would go toward helping food-insecure households in my community this holiday season.

Libby Foster – Brave Space Alliance

This year I’ve chosen to donate to Brave Space Alliance. BSA focuses on providing “affirming and culturally competent” services for the LGBTQ+ community on Chicago’s Southside. The organization prioritizes BIPOC transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in an effort to allow those communities “a seat at the table on key decision making processes that impact the community of Chicago.”

This research from the Human Rights Campaign highlights how severely communities of color, particularly transgender BIPOC, have been impacted by the pandemic. I had the pleasure of speaking with BSA founder and executive director LaSaia Wade last year when I was working in public radio – her personal story and commitment to the Chicago communities she serves was inspiring. I love BSA’s emphasis on empowering the queer community to both survive AND thrive and know they will continue that mission in 2022.

Connor Bradshaw – Brave Space Alliance, Chicago Community Bond Fund, Free Street Theater

Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ Center located on the South Side of Chicago. Their programming is kind of awe-inspiring and they're always using resources or divesting their surpluses toward other initiatives in the city, state, and country that center racial healing (I’m specifically thinking about the George Floyd protests when they contributed to various jail support groups in Minnesota).

I've volunteered for the Chicago Community Bond Fund a couple times and they're always looking for donations and volunteers. Their ultimate goal is to end money bond and pretrial incarceration. To address these issues right now, they pay the bonds for people in Cook County and offer transportation / temporary living resources to those who have been recently released. Chicago winters are brutal and most people released aren't given any sort of protection from the cold or given clear access to help.

Free Street Theatre is the best theatre company in this whole city. Their mission is to challenge racial and economic segregation through the arts, and boy do they. I could truly gush about them for hours. They provide comprehensive arts programming to youths around Chicago (predominantly the West side as they're located in Pulaski Park). They put on shows with sliding scale pricing so anyone who wants to go can go. They've opened a food bank for community members who need it. They are the perfect model for the ways art interacts with, and benefits, its community.

Jenna Thompson – Appalachia Service Project

Appalachia Service Project is an emergency home repair organization powered by 15,000 yearly volunteers that serves 20 – 30 counties in Central Appalachia. I spent four summers in high school volunteering with ASP and spent two summers in college working for ASP. My summers spent in the mountains managing construction projects for deserving families were transformational. While their work is based in construction, ASP's guiding principle is to "accept people right where they are, just the way they are." Since 1969, ASP has hosted over 440,00 volunteers who have repaired over 19,000 homes for Appalachian families. Although this organization means a lot to me personally, the work they do for underserved communities is inspirational.

Clay Kuntz – Chicago House

This is my third year in a row donating to Chicago House, which offers housing, health, and employment services to individuals and families impacted by HIV and AIDS. I think they do incredible work destigmatizing HIV and AIDS – something that has been weaponized against the LGBTQ community for decades, even all the way back to the ’80s when the US government refused to fund research that has since created lifesaving drugs known as PrEP and PEP. And at a time when it's estimated that a whopping 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, Chicago House's work is more crucial than ever.

While it's admittedly "Hollywood," watch Pose on FX to get a better (and albeit very sad) account of what it was like living with HIV / AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s, especially as a person of color. That should put quite a bit of Chicago House's work into perspective.

Amy Zhao – One Tail at a Time

One Tail at a Time is a Chicago animal rescue with a progressive dog adoption program that supports under-resourced animal shelters and pet families. While it’s great that so many people adopted dogs during the pandemic, this unfortunately means that shelters are now quickly filling back up as people return to work. I wanted to support an organization that would help these dogs avoid euthanasia and find their forever homes.

Julia Heney – Chicago Recovery Alliance

Last month, the CDC announced that over 100,000 people in the US died from fatal drug overdoses over a 12-month period – a number that places us squarely within the third wave of an opioid epidemic. So this year, I asked Propllr to match my donation to the Chicago Recovery Alliance, which provides a range of services to people who want to reduce drug-related harm in their own lives and in their communities, including: overdose training, Naloxone, support for safer drug use, real-time drug checking, harm reduction counseling, referrals for treatment programs, and more.

Ellie Dundics – Broadway Recovery Services

I’m from Youngstown, and the drug crisis is absolutely horrible in northeast Ohio, with cases up 26 percent in the past year. So whenever I get the chance to donate, I give to a local nonprofit called Broadway Recovery Services. Broadway currently has five houses (the sixth is on its way). They provide everything residents need to fight their addictions – food, hygiene, drug tests, and rehab costs.

Its founder, Adam Lonardo, graduated with my cousins, and he is one of the hardest working, most generous people I know. He struggled with his own addiction for over a decade and started this organization to provide halfway houses and recovery plans for others battling with addiction.

Before COVID, I sat in on one of the weekly meetings, and to see first-hand the amount of gratitude and emotion the men poured into Adam really changed my way of thinking about addiction.

A little more about Adam: When I was still in college and searching for work experience, my cousin asked him if I could help with social media and website work. Adam said yes immediately, and the work I did with him was one of my first complete website redesign projects.

Brenna Lemieux – Hope for the Day (content warning: suicide)

This year, I donated to Hope for the Day, a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to "empowering the conversation on proactive suicide prevention and mental health education" and, in doing that, to helping reduce the number of suicide completions.

I chose this organization because my brother-in-law died by suicide in May of this year. It was devastating. It is devastating. I'm not sure what else to say, except that I encourage you to read about Hope for the Day's mission and work.

(Okay, I thought of one more thing to say: Sip of Hope is a Chicago coffee shop that dedicates all of its proceeds to Hope for the Day, if you're interested in buying beans that support a good cause.)

Myles Hudson – Brave Space Alliance

Brave Space Alliance (BSA) is a Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ center located in Chicago’s South Side. BSA orients its resources, programming, and services toward BIPOC trans and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) folks using a mutual aid framework. Mutual aid has had something of a moment during the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it comes to providing mutual aid for queer BIPOC South Siders, BSA did it first. From running a crisis pantry to opening a free make-up room for trans-feminine folks, BSA creates space for radical healing and affirmation every day.

Alexis Bailey – DuSable Museum of African-American History

Chicago has an extremely rich arts and culture scene. When I first moved to Chicago, the DuSable Museum was my first stop. It's solely dedicated to the study and preservation of African American history and culture. With all of the protest and violence against Black lives, I think it's important to highlight the histories and stories of Black lives within US history and show that transformation / change is still possible.

Hayleigh Criss – Everytown

I chose Everytown, the largest gun prevention organization in America. The gun violence epidemic has taken far too many lives, shattering communities and families – including mine. Earlier this year, 10 people were shot and killed at my local grocery store in Boulder. Everytown supports and educates survivors and helps advance gun safety regulations, background checks, and action from elected officials.

Jon Keller – Spark and Tutoring Chicago

This year I'm supporting two organizations in Chicago that are empowering economically disadvantaged students. Spark partners with eight schools on Chicago's South and West sides to bridge the gap between students’ skills and their access to opportunities. Each year, the organization connects 300 middle school students’ learnings in the classroom, interests, and abilities to their future aspirations through a hands-on, experiential learning mentorship guided by a career professional.

Tutoring Chicago provides one-on-one tutoring to students facing economic barriers, using a curriculum that is not only academic, but developmental and reflective. Every Wednesday night after work, I head over to a local school in Chicago to spend time working with a third-grade student, focusing on ways we can improve his reading, writing, and self-confidence. To see how much he has grown throughout the course of the school year has been an incredibly rewarding and powerful experience for me.