In 2017, after seeing the devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to Louisiana and Texas, these two brothers were determined to help. They partnered with the American Red Cross to host their first blood drive, which took place at their high school in 2018. Since then, Carter and Noah have continued to host an annual blood drive at their school. However, in 2020, as schools closed due to the pandemic, the duo had to find a new location for their blood drive. Through networking and sponsorships, Carter, a senior in high school and Noah, a junior, were able to raise sufficient funds to rent a space in their local park district. The pair made sure to utilize social media to promote the blood drive, which despite being held during the pandemic, resulted in an increase of 60% in blood donations from their previous events.
Hero award sponsored by Fresenius Kabi
As the pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs, renown Chicago Chef Q Ibraheem put her culinary passion to the service of those struggling to put food on the table. She started a free food delivery service to prepare farm-to-table meals and deliver them to families across Chicago. Chef Q enlisted the support of various organizations and volunteers to be able to carry on with this operation. She now runs two kitchens and has hired laid-off school bus drivers to deliver food to the families. So far, she has provided more than 20,000 meals to Chicago families, which equates to 160-204 meals per day.
Hero award sponsored by Nicor Gas
As a professional mentor with Friends of the Children, Phalon works with 2nd and 3rd graders facing high levels of adversity. She is committed to mentoring this group of students from kindergarten through high school. The students have been paired with Phalon to make sure that they have the resources and tools they need to help them succeed academically. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Phalon has broken boundaries to make sure her mentees don’t fall behind as school has gone virtual. She trained students’ caregivers and families to use technology for the children’s online schooling. As parents have had to balance work and their children’s education, she developed a routine for her mentees to make sure they can be ready for classes every morning. She is committed to supporting her students and those who care for them to make sure the children succeed from grade school through high school and beyond.
Hero award sponsored by William Blair
In 2019, Esther was one of Lakeview Pantry's earliest innovators to help lead and manage its Online Market to ensure that families in need have access to nutritious food. This program was timely as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food needs for many families that were suddenly struggling to make ends meet. The online market started as a pilot program, and quickly expanded. Today, there are pick-up sites in Sheridan, Avondale, La Casa Norte, Chicago’s South Side, and more. The novel Online Market provides clients the flexibility to select items for their families. In addition, it allows individuals to order groceries on any mobile device and schedule a convenient time for pickup without having to wait in long lines.
Hero award sponsored by United Airlines
In the summer of 2018, Quention Curtis, who is a firefighter with the Chicago Fire Department, founded the Black Fire Brigade. It was a response to inner city crime, which impedes the future of young people in our city and disproportionately affects Black communities. The non-profit organization provides assistance with tuition for young individuals receiving training as firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians. The Black Fire Brigade also offers additional training and mentorship to participants. The organization has seen over 250 of its members successfully complete the program, including 60 single moms and three homeless students.
Hero award sponsored by Grainger
Joshua has dedicated most of his adult life to serving immigrant communities in Illinois and across the country. His community activism was sparked by his experience while studying abroad in Barcelona in the ‘70s. He saw how hundreds of thousands of people turned to the streets to demand freedom and democracy after the death of Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco. Throughout his long career, Joshua has worked to enable the voices of many, including the undocumented immigrant population, and has fought for access to healthcare, education and for a path to legal status. In 2012, he became the founding director of the National Partnership for New Americans which is comprised of immigrant right organizations from all over the country. Joshua has also advocated to remove barriers that make it difficult for legal immigrants to become citizens, which includes the cost of the application that many are unable to afford. Joshua, who retired in 2020, has served as a mentor to many who now continue carrying the torch of community activism.
Hero award sponsored by Walgreens
This group of nurses has been working together at Northwestern Memorial Hospital since the 1980’s, including administering care during the AIDS crisis. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the group decided to continue their work in the Intensive Care Units amid the healthcare pandemic. Each of these nurses were given the option to transfer to other hospital departments with lower exposure risks. However, this group of nurses opted to remain together on the frontline of the pandemic, which included taking care of the sickest COVID-19 patients. These nurses have worked together on the front lines for more than 30 years. The group is legendary at Northwestern and is training and mentoring the next generation of nurses who work alongside them.
Hero award sponsored by Aon
On August 30, 2020, Officer Collins had been on the job with the Chicago Police Department for only seven days, when she responded to a shooting of several individuals in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood. Upon arrival, Officer Collins jumped into action and applied combat gauze and pressure to a victim who was shot and whose boyfriend had succumbed to his wounds. Collins also offered assistance to other gunshot victims until paramedics arrived. The calmness, quick-thinking and professionalism that the rookie officer exhibited during the situation, combined with her protection of the crime scene and evidence, impressed her Field Training Officer and other responding officers.
Hero award sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation
On August 27, 2020, Kyla had just finished her night shift as an operator at Glenbrook Hospital and drove to Arlington Heights to visit a friend. When she parked her car in a nearby lot, she saw a woman screaming for help while a man held a knife to her neck. Kyla immediately made her presence known by yelling at the man to stop. While walking towards them, the man flashed the knife. Fearing for her safety, Kyla retreated to her car and called 911, while the man forced the woman into an SUV. However, the woman escaped and was able to get in Kyla’s car. After an unsuccessful attempt to also get into Kyla’s car, the man got into his vehicle and started chasing them as the two women drove away. The 911 operator on the phone with Kyla directed her to drive to the Arlington Heights Police Department. Police officers intercepted Kyla’s car on the way and assisted her and the woman. For her bravery, Kyla was awarded the Arlington Heights Police Department’s Meritorious Service Award.
Hero award sponsored by KPMG US LLP
Akbar is a U.S. Navy veteran and coordinator for the Travis Manion Foundation, an organization that offers training programs and resources to veterans and families of the fallen. Last year, when Akbar learned that the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center was forced to close its food pantry due to the pandemic, affecting the many Veterans who rely on the pantry, he sprang into action to organize pop-up pantries across Chicago. The pop-up pantries, created with the help of other veteran organizations, averaged 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of food being distributed monthly during the difficult summer of 2020.
Hero award sponsored by CDW
Social activism runs in Tanya Lozano’s blood. Her uncle was Chicago-based activist Rudy Lozano and her mother, Emma Lozano is also a well-known community activist in Chicago. In 2014, Tanya poured her passion for sports and physical fitness into founding the non-profit organization, Healthy Hood Chicago. The organization, which is based in Pilsen, uses wellness education to combat the life expectancy gap for underprivileged Chicagoans. In April 2020, Tanya pivoted her organization to help vulnerable communities in Chicago, lacking resources during the pandemic. Through the We Got Us initiative, Tanya joined forces with community groups to provide food and masks to thousands of families. We Got Us has expanded its services to include a neighborhood pantry, hot meal delivery, wellness checks and COVID-19 testing sites on the city’s South and West Sides. Tanya’s dedication to community service hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2020, she was named Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine among other recognitions.
Hero award sponsored by BMO Harris Bank
In 2017, middle school students from Village Leadership Academy embarked on a mission. They led a ‘Change the Name’ campaign to rename Douglas Park in North Lawndale. The 151-year-old park was previously named after Stephen A. Douglas, a pre-American Civil War U.S senator whose wife owned a Mississippi slave plantation. Douglas had advocated for slavery to be decided on a state-by-state level. The students campaigned to name the park in honor of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass. Both are renowned abolitionists and activists, with Frederick also known as a respected author and publisher. Their efforts included passing out flyers, speaking to journalists, recruiting advocates and attending Chicago Park District meetings to seek racial justice reform. Last September, their determination was rewarded when the Chicago Park District Board voted to rename it Douglass Park.
Hero award sponsored by ITW
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