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Two years ago Lisa, a single mother with mounting medical bills, was faced with a choice: buy her prescriptions to keep herself healthy or pay her electricity bill and provide heat for her children. Either option would have led to hardships for her family and potentially, her health. Thankfully, Lisa was able to receive help from the Emergency Fund. For over 35 years, the Emergency Fund has helped families like Lisa’s when they have nowhere else to turn.
Thirty-five years ago, Lisa’s family would have been without heat and/or necessary medications. It was at this time that Norman H. Stone saw a gaping hole in Chicago’s safety net for its neediest residents. When community members were faced with a situation similar to Lisa’s, no one was there to help them through the transition or crisis. In 1973, Stone changed the system and provided immediate financial assistance to people facing a crisis. With just three volunteers, he established the Emergency Fund and began to disburse resources quickly, covering costs for medication, food, bus passes, and even refrigerators.
In July 2004, the Emergency Fund merged with My Brother’s Keeper, an organization founded by Tom Owens. In 2005 we were selected to house Mayor Daley’s Chicago Homelessness Prevention Fund, and in 2007 we were awarded a $3.2 million dollar grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services. Today, the Emergency Fund continues to grow and gain recognition. We were recently selected to administer $23 million in homelessness prevention funding through President Obama’s stimulus package and are distributing these funds to the residents of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Thanks to our generous supporters, the Emergency Fund is on the forefront of financial assistance distribution in Chicago and will continue to help individuals and families in critical need.