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End of Year Giving

November 28, 2023 - December 31, 2023

Earlier this year on March 19th, a fire broke out in a three-story building in Palatine and quickly spread to a neighboring structure. Over 70 residents were left homeless. These already financially vulnerable families lost EVERYTHING. It was the middle of winter, and most only had the clothes they wore that night. Partners for Our Communities (POC) quickly mobilized partners to collect clothing, food, and gift cards and connected them to our case managers to help through this crisis. These families became clients, and our mission is to lift them up with services and resources to become leaders in their homes and this community.

POC works with individuals in crisis daily in the form of mental or physical illness, homelessness, isolation, violence and abuse, food insecurity, or lack of clothing and has for 31 years. Through individual donations and grants, POC added a fully staffed clothing closet, and case managers, which support the food pantry to assist under-resourced families in becoming self-sufficient. Each person that comes to us has challenges to overcome and a story to tell. It is our responsibility to discover their strengths and talents and break down the barriers of income, education, transportation, immigration, and health to level the playing field for our families.

At the bottom of this page, we highlight one compelling story of an individual who came to us for help, and now she and her children are paying it forward! This is just one of the inspiring stories we hear each day as we welcome hundreds of new people each month. We are listening and hearing their stories and are eager to share them with you in the months ahead. They teach, inspire, and motivate us, and with ALL of our help, they will soon be able to live their dreams and walk alongside us to build strong neighborhoods and vibrant communities.

We are excited for 2024, and on behalf of the POC Board of Directors, we invite you to donate to support our crucial work in this season of giving. Your gift will help us to respond in times of crisis, listen to the voices of our most vulnerable neighbors, and empower all to achieve their dreams.

The Ramirez Family

Laura: “My daughters Ruth and Sara were little girls when we started coming to POC. It totally changed my life because I learned to speak English here. When you can’t speak the language, other people must speak for you. My other language is art. I have taught more people than I can count how to make jewelry. It has given me confidence and joy. One time, one of my students returned to tell me how he had built his own small business making and selling jewelry; when he called me ’teacher Laura’ I was so proud.”

Ruth: “We grew up here. I felt cared for. I kept that energy and now that I am grown, I want to take that energy and give it back to others. As an Intake Specialist at the front desk, I help provide a welcoming and safe place, and I will always be part of the POC family, whether on staff or as a volunteer.”

Sara: “My work at POC ranges from helping individual clients gain access to immigrant justice and legal services, to helping POC raise program funds. I’m really excited for the future of POC’s immigrant justice program; it is a more and more important part of POC’s services.”

Laura: “People who are new to the community can be frightened; scared to ask for help and confused by misinformation. We are here for them. We want to share our strength. During COVID, I discovered reading, and it changed my life. It opens your heart and eyes to new worlds. It helps me think big, and my vision for the future is for the POC model to be repeated in many places, in many countries.”

Stories of Impact

Hanna

In February 2022, I left my home in Ukraine with my children, Jane and Yehor, and our dog Pin because the war began. We traveled to Germany and were lucky to live with a pleasant family in Nuremberg. Then, the Uniting for Ukraine program allowed us to move to America and live with my sister and her family in Buffalo Grove.

I did not want to leave Germany. For the second time in six months, I felt forced to leave what was dear to me. In Germany, my children and I visited our friends from Ukraine. Plus, I was comfortable. However, my relatives decided it would be better for us to move to the United States. I felt anger, fear, despair, and culture shock for the first three months. One winter day, while I was eating a dried apricot, my sister told me something, but I didn’t want to listen to her. I firmly clenched my teeth, and the apricot pit cracked my tooth. I knew I was wrong to blame others for my situation, but I couldn’t stop until I learned this lesson. I realized I would destroy myself with my anger if I didn’t change.

 

I stopped blaming my relatives for our move to the U.S. Hanna came to POC for help with English and she comes three I enrolled in classes at Harper College. My homework encouraged me to consider the future and the needed changes. I forced myself to look at this country through the eyes of my fellow students and their stories. I have started to plan. I opened a bank account, tried a new job, and plan to study. I don’t know how long I will stay in the U.S. — but I know I see every day as a new opportunity. I will support my country however I can and am grateful to this community.

Hanna volunteering at the food pantry and brought other people from Ukraine.

Jose

Jose describes himself as a husband to Nayeli, the father of two sons, 9-year-old Uriel and six-year-old Axel, and Chef and co-owner of Patina Wine Bar in Park Ridge. In his teens, Jose arrived in the U.S. from Oaxaca, Mexico, 18 years ago. He began working in the restaurant business at a young age with very little education. Jose started as a dishwasher, then a line cook. He discovered that he loved “the broiler” and wanted to learn more.

In 2021, Jose traveled to Mexico to process immigration papers, a time-consuming, challenging experience. When he returned to the U.S., the Patina Wine Bar co-owners presented him with a bottle of tequila wrapped in red, white, and blue to celebrate his return – and offered him the position of Chef and Co-Owner in recognition of his accomplishments and contributions to the restaurant. Jose Luis has not had formal culinary training, but he learned his skills through hands-on work, research, and experience. He is learning English through Harper classes and practicing with POC – something he feels he needs to succeed. Jose credits his family and the owners of the Patina Wine Bar for believing in him. Someday, he hopes to attend culinary school and perhaps even open a restaurant or author a cookbook.

 

Rosa

Rosa has been a member of the POC family for more than 15 years. She recalls that when she came to her first English language class, she couldn’t even read enough basic English to fill out a form with her personal information. Fast forward to 2023, and she has accomplished so much! Her husband encouraged her in the early years. “Go outside the house. Go to school. It will be good for you and good for our family.” Rosa soon enrolled in English classes through Harper College, participated in POC’s Learning Lab, and was in the second class of POC’s Reaching Out Lifting to Excellence (ROLE) Harvard-based program. In 2023, she became a U.S. citizen.

 Rosa and her family live in Palatine. Stefanie is a junior at Palatine High School. “She was involved in everything,” Rosa says proudly, including ICompete, and now her 7-year-old sister Valeria is part of the same great program. Rosa’s life is complete. She takes District 211 ESL evening classes and is a parent mentor for School District 15. One of her goals is to become a Teacher’s Assistant. Her mantra is “Be positive and be prepared.” Rosa explains, “I want to be prepared with the proper skills to help people in my community.”

 

POC accepts Donor-Advised Funds. Our tax ID is 36-3881109.

Details

Start:
November 28, 2023
End:
December 31, 2023

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