One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for November 2019

Help Caregivers Feel Gratitude This Thanksgiving & Holiday Season

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As National Family Caregiver Month comes to end, it is important to recognize that unpaid caregiving is becoming more of a national trend. (I should know – I have been an unpaid caregiver for my mother for several years). With Thanksgiving and the holiday season fast approaching, it might be a great opportunity to discuss how we can support family caregivers more effectively and help them through difficult, emotionally challenging times.

Caregiving Is Becoming More of a Destination Than A Journey – When you look at current trends in caregiving, with more men and Millennials caring for aging parents and relatives. slipping into the cliche that “Caregiving is a journey” can come across as insensitive, patronizing, and possibly out of touch. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that day-to-day caregiving provides numerous challenges to balancing life, work (including job seeking) and leisure time. It would be easy to do what an online support group leader once did, claiming that a participant needed to “believe in themselves” when dealing with numerous stresses. Caregiving is never easy, and caregivers like me find great solace when someone understands regardless of their own caregiving past. Speaking of being present for caregivers…

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Encourage Self-Care as a Discipline, Not an Indulgence – Taking a cue from a recent Forbes article, too many people – including caregivers – see self-care as an indulgence. Self-care for caregivers is not about pampering or treating themselves occasionally; it’s about developing a ritual that allows them to manage the challenges of unpaid caregiving more effectively. Exercise, diet, regular physical and mental health checks, and other behaviors can help caregivers develop skills and resilience for handling tough situations.

Offer Tangible Help When Asked – Recently, I attended a caregiver support event where a pair of siblings were looking for a great place to start…and a participant proceeded to lecture about how she “turns her problems over to the Father”. Although “thoughts and prayers” can provide some comfort (and spirituality can play some role in caregiving efforts), early-stage caregivers are at a loss to even start to find needed resources and relief. When a caregiver in your life asks for help, make it tangible and realistic. Whether it’s monetary or a moment of support, supporting friends and colleagues who are caregivers is critical to helping them find moments of quiet. And on that note…

Emphasize face time over Facebook – Caregiving can be time-consuming, and many caregivers don’t take the time to see people face to face. Although it’s easy to check-in via social media, making the effort to engage caregivers in real-time can have greater benefits. Even the act of inviting someone to an outing  – whether a high-end event or a casual conversation of coffee – can have extremely beneficial effects, even if the caregiver cannot intend. (As a caregiver, I enjoy being invited to outings as they help me feel less isolated, lonely, and overwhelmed).

Dawn Xiana Moon of Raks Geek (Photo by Nancy Behall)

Dawn Xiana Moon of Raks Geek
(Photo by Nancy Behall)

If you’re looking for an opportunity for face time and advocacy (as we’ll suggest in the next step), why not consider Raks Geek’s December 13th fundraiser for RIP Medical Debt. Think of it as a way to alleviate stresses for a variety of caregivers, including the one in your life)

Advocate for Caregiver-friendly Policies Although there is a curious political silence about eldercare in our country, there are several caregiver-friendly policies that require strong, consistent advocacy. Supportive services like mental health, Medicaid, and SNAP also frequently face legislative challenges, and these policies directly impact on unpaid caregivers and their elder relatives. Advocating for caregiver-friendly state and federal policies have a greater impact on the caregiving community, and these issues deserve your attention.

For many caregivers, Thanksgiving can serve as the harbinger to even tougher struggles during the holiday season. Social isolation, depression, and potential caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue can color how a caregiver perceives the holidays. Help caregivers like me feel more grateful for the holiday season…all it takes are small acts of kindness and consideration.

Thank you so much for reading; if you would like to continue the conversation, please leave your comments or questions below or join us on our Facebook page. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great holiday!


Written by gordondym

November 25, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Building Entrepreneurship: LISC Chicago, NLEN & Sunshine Enterprises

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(Special thanks to Taneka Pernell and for Loren Williams for their time and their insights

Entrepreneurship is more than just creating a new initiative; it also consists of doing the work that moves that initiative forward. LISC Chicago recently facilitated a partnership between Sunshine Enterprises’ Community Business Academy and the North Lawndale Employment Network. Both organizations recently put on a twelve-week session focusing and financial and other business-related skills (like marketing) to help local community-based entrepreneurs make progress in running their business. As Caroline Rendon, LISC Chicago Program Officer explains,

“LISC saw an opportunity to bring the longstanding FOC’s coaching expertise to a strong entrepreneurship training organization, and a partnership was born…The partnership between NLEN and Sunshine is really a matter of these two organizations coming together with their own expertise to demonstrate the value of this approach to financial coaching.”

Since we highlighted both Sunshine Enterprises and North Lawndale Employment Network on this blog in the past, we were fortunate enough to receive insights into this partnership from representatives from both organizations.

Please tell me your name and how you’re affiliated with the LISC Chicago/Sunshine Enterprises initiative in North Lawndale?

Taneka: My name is Taneka Pernell. I am a Financial Capability Coach with the North Lawndale Employment Network, working within the Financial Opportunity Center; which is a branch of the LISC Chicago network. LISC married the concept of having Sunshine Enterprise’s entrepreneurs financially coached by North Lawndale Employment Network’s financial coaches.

Loren: My name is Loren Williams and I am the Regional Director at Sunshine Enterprises. I have taught the 12-week Community Business Academy in partnership with New Covenant CDC for the past 3 years. I have also coached entrepreneurs in business for 3 years in North Lawndale. LISC has provided funding for us, which has allowed us to partner with North Lawndale Employment Network to provide credit counseling to our entrepreneurs. c-now-north-lawndale-01

How did you get involved in these efforts?

Taneka: LISC chose our FOC over many to take on this project. Our then director; approached me to take on this opportunity for NLEN. I was in soon as expectations and goals were laid out.

What is it about this collaboration that appeals to you?

Taneka: Hard to decide what didn’t appeal to me about this collaboration; being educated on and seeing the efforts that Sunshine places into building up the entrepreneurs are great motivation.

I believe that LISC and Sunshine Enterprises see and believed in the work that North Lawndale Employment Network is doing within the FOC and know that this collaboration as great as well

Loren: This relationship proved to be very valuable to our entrepreneurs in that it helped them improve their credit scores which positioned them to access capital for their businesses.

North Lawndale is a neighborhood that has some very specific challenges. Please describe some of those challenges, as well as highlight the successes that you have seen or experienced.

Taneka: As a Financial Coach within the North Lawndale community, one of the greatest challenges I see is that the community is severely underbanked. Unlike other communities, North Lawndale has little to no banks, leaving residents to seek less favorable and untraditional alternatives to banking. However, North Lawndale Employment Network will soon open our newest location that will include a space with Wintrust Bank, bringing a much-needed banking option to the community.

Loren: North Lawndale is one of many under-resourced, underserved communities. One of the resources that are lacking are resources for entrepreneurs. Through the Community Business Academy and our Business Acceleration Services, we have been able to help many of our entrepreneurs start or scale their businesses.

Entrepreneurship” can often be overused to the point where it becomes just another buzzword. Please tell us how you perceive the NLEN/Sunset Enterprises collaboration fostering entrepreneurship in the community.

Taneka: We are bridging the gap between just using the word “Entrepreneurship” with the actual actions of what it takes to become an “Entrepreneur”. Sunshine Enterprise provides the participants with the small business blueprint and provides a warm handover to us at North Lawndale Employment to work with the participants on personal finances; both of which are needed to become a great small business owner.

Loren: Both organizations have a strong mission to uplift, support and grow the community. The NLEN/Sunshine Enterprises collaboration fosters entrepreneurship in the community through its various programs to help people start and grow their businesses.


What current and potential benefits are you experiencing personally or professionally?

Taneka: It’s great personally and professionally getting to know each entrepreneur and what they have to offer. I have been able to get great gifts for my friends and family supporting small businesses. Also, North Lawndale Employment Network has used several of the catering businesses for various events.

How have participants (whether they’re businesses or individuals) described their experience in this program?

Taneka:  It has been great feedback; I think people truly understand how and why this collaboration works weather they’re a participant or individual.

What I hear a lot from participants on our end, is that now that they have gotten their personal finances in order, they can now take what they have learned and apply it to how they handle their small business finances.

Loren: Many of our entrepreneurs have reported starting and growing their businesses, improving their credit, purchasing a home, etc.

Finally, how do you expect this collaboration between NLEN and Sunset Enterprises to further impact residents and businesses in North Lawndale?

Taneka: We have truly seen this partnership come full circle, North Lawndale Employment Network happily refer participants who are a part of our program and interested in building a small business to Sunshine Enterprise. I expect this collaboration to go further helping expand and create more small businesses within our neighborhood.

Fostering community-based entrepreneurship presents a unique set of challenges, especially in key Chicago neighborhoods. Thanks to LISC Chicago, Sunshine Enterprises and North Lawndale Employment Network are rising to the challenge.

You are more than welcome to join the conversation by leaving a comment below or visiting our Facebook page. If you wish to send a private message, you can use this email contact form.

As always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

November 21, 2019 at 4:30 am

Raks Geek: December 13 Fundraiser for RIP Medical Debt

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Although we’ve spoken twice with Dawn Xiana Moon of Raks Geek about immigration reform, she and the troupe are taking on another cause at their upcoming December 13th performance at the Newport Theater in Lakeview. Some of the proceeds from Raks Geek’s December 13 performance will be used to forgive medical debt through RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that relieves such debt for many people in Chicago and throughout the country.

You may wonder “geeky” belly dance, fire-spinning, and other acts pertain to medical debt. It’s not the first time the subject of medical debt was made entertaining: John Oliver focused on debt collection (and medical debt) on a past episode of his HBO show (and received a testimonial on Mashable):

Although it is tempting to dismiss John Oliver and Raks Geek’s efforts as mere entertainment, many Americans experience dire consequences as a result of medical debt. According to statistics provided by RIP Medical Debt, 66% of all bankruptcies and 25% of all credit card debt are a result of unpaid medical expenses. More than half of all Americans with medical debt have no other debts on their credit report. As health care costs rise as a result of medical debt, nearly one in three Americans are avoiding medical care (such as medication and primary care visits) due to concerns around cost. With medical debt collectors going to extreme lengths to collect (including arresting people and LinkedIn connections), efforts to alleviate medical debt can be complicated for many people to handle alone. 

Michi Trota (Photo by Stage Photographic)

Michi Trota
(Photo by Stage Photographic)

Having partnered with churches (as well as John Oliver) in the past, RIP Medical Debt purchases such debt for pennies on the dollar. Working Forgiving debt without adverse consequences to a person’s credit history, RIP Medical Debt has improved many people’s credit status and provided forward financial movement. Since “Debt never dies” in cofounder Craig Antico’s words, RIP Medical Debt provides a sorely needed service to alleviate these issues for many Americans. Raks Geek’s December 12th performance fundraiser at the Newport Theater is bringing greater attention and awareness to the issue in a way denied to certain presidential candidates.

Dawn Xiana Moon (Photo by Nancy Behall)

Dawn Xiana Moon
(Photo by Nancy Behall)

Health care reform is a complicated issue that one blog post or one performance will not solve, but Raks Geek is taking a critical step and inclusive stance towards the issue. Through December 13 show (subtitled “A Xenomorph Holiday Special”) at the Newport Theater in Lakeview, Raks Geek will be making a small but significant step in bringing awareness and attention to a complicated issue…and will entertain you while doing so.

In fact, you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive Bellydancing Wookie.

Hope to see you there!

Written by gordondym

November 19, 2019 at 10:51 am