MSV's COVID Relief Fund in Action

MSV Families Coping in Quarantine

Connecting Communities | May 2020

When the Stay at Home orders were announced in Illinois, we knew that this would present many challenges for the hundreds of children and families we serve each day. School closing, job loss, and health issues were just some of the challenges our families faced.

Anticipating these difficulties, we initiated the COVID-19 Relief Fund so that we could offer some small measure of direct support to those hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic. We have been awestruck by the response from our friends and supporters who answered the call to fund this effort.

To date, we have raised $216,964 from 172 individuals and businesses, and the impact of this incredible response is already far-reaching.

Our Family Support, Youth Services, and Community Outreach teams have all been in close contact with families and individuals in our network, assessing needs based on job stability, household size, and other economic factors. Based on our staff’s close correspondence, we’ve identified 174 families, accounting for 663 individuals, who are “high-need” and have already distributed nearly $100,000 in direct support in the form of Visa gift cards to help with basic needs like food, prescription drugs, and other household items. We will continue to provide support in the weeks ahead.

“An estimated 80-85% of MSV families have been completely cut off from their income.”

-Nicole Kusack, Director of Family Support

"I almost cried when I got the call that a gift card was coming,” shared Quentein Morris, a father of twins enrolled in MSV’s Early Childhood Education Pre-K program. Quentein is a barber working in a shop on the west side whose income was abruptly cut off when his shop closed. “There’s almost no way for me to earn any money right now, but with the help from MSV I was able to stock up on groceries and I think we’re in a good spot through at least the end of next month.”

Several families in the MSV community are working in essential jobs during the shutdown, from healthcare and grocery, to food delivery or shipping. But, “an estimated 80-85% of MSV families have been completely cut off from their income,” said Director of Family Support, Nicole Kusack. This has not only resulted in lost wages, but also a loss of health insurance and other benefits.

For St. Vincent parent Quianna Epperson, the choice to stay home from work and forego her income was a matter of life and death considering that her elderly mother lives at home with her and her family. “Where I work I am in constant contact with the public all day, so work gave me the option to stay on during the shutdown, or, if coming into work would endanger our family, I could go on furlough, “Quianna said. “It was a no-brainer, knowing what I could be bringing home to my mother.”

We have asked our families to send us their best "shelter in place selfies" and Quianna Epperson's family did not disappoint!

Quianna and husband Jimmie have come to St. Vincent for over 20 years. “We started coming before the new building was event built. St. Vincent is like my second line of defense. I consider it to be an extension of my family.” Jimmie is in the moving business which has come to a standstill under the Stay at Home orders. With the aid they received from the COVID-19 Relief Fund, they were able to get a small laptop for their children to share during their school days at home. “We were able to cover our water bill for the month, but my number one concern was with the children’s education – I didn’t want them to fall behind just because we didn’t have a computer at home for them to use,” said Quianna.

We have been inspired by gifts to the fund, both small and large, and we continue to seek support from the public for the families in our network. An anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 in additional matching money, doubling every dollar raised up to that amount. Your contribution to the fund will continue to be a lifeline to parents like Quentein, Quianna, and Jimmie.

If you’d like to make a gift to the fund or share it with a loved one on social media, click or tap the "Match My Gift" button below.

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