What's New

The Need Next Door: Lynn's Story

06/28/16

Fact: 48% of all ARK Clients have completed college. Lynn is one of those clients. This is her story.

By all accounts, Lynn R.* was a talented artist. She wasn’t looking for fame, and supported herself by selling her work at art fairs and galleries, taking private commissions for ketubot, and occasionally teaching art classes at a local community college. She never married and had no children, and managed to save enough to live comfortably. As she got older, the arthritis in her hands made it harder and harder for her to work; but by that time she was old enough to start collecting Social Security, so she was able to cover her usual expenses, even though her rent, electric bill, and food costs went up a little bit each year. She thought everything would be fine. Then one day she received a letter from the IRS.

Since Lynn was mostly self-employed, she had been responsible for reporting her income and paying estimated taxes quarterly. Each year she would get either a small refund check or have to pay a small additional amount, but she’d carefully budgeted for this, so it wasn’t a problem. Now, though, it seemed that the IRS had taken a closer look, and said that she owed several thousand dollars in fines. 

“I went into a panic,” Lynn said. “I didn’t have that much of a cushion—if I had to pay this money, something else would have to go—my rent, or the gas bill, or food—I didn’t know what to do.” But in the end, she did: she called The ARK. She met with a social worker, who arranged for a volunteer tax attorney to help. The attorney secured an agreement from the IRS to waive the fines, leaving Lynn with only a small, more affordable tax bill.

Lynn later called The ARK to express her appreciation.  “I received the IRS receipt in the mail today, and I wanted to call to thank you very much," said Lynn. "I have a few more gray hairs after this incident, but it would be a lot worse if The ARK didn’t exist.  I cannot express how much I appreciate The ARK’s help.  You absolutely came through for me and kept me positive through it.  Thank you to Josh, Mr. L., and everyone else who had a hand in helping me.”

*Name and certain identifying details changed to protect client privacy.

Helping Kids: The ARK's Backpack Project

06/17/16

The ARK's Backpack ProjectFor parents who can barely afford to buy food and pay the rent, the start of school is a time of great anxiety as they scramble to afford school supplies.

Together, we can help.  The ARK’s Backpack Project provides our clients’ children with backpacks and age-appropriate school supplies. It's simple: The ARK gives participants a list of supplies needed by one or more (anonymous) child/children. Donors shop for and buy the backpack and items on the list, and deliver the filled backpack to The ARK. The ARK then distributes the backpacks to families, preserving the dignity of our clients.

Please sign up by June 30, 2016.

 
To learn more/participate in this great program, click here: http://www.arkchicago.org/backpack

De-Cluttering? What & What Not to Donate

If you are among the many Jewish Chicagoans cleaning out old clothes, toys, household goods, and other items in preparation for Pesach (or simply cleaning out unwanted items for any reason), you might be wondering what to do with them. Why not donate them to The ARK's Thrift Shop? Sales of donated items help The ARK provide food, medicine and more basic necessities to local Jewish families in need! Your donation may be tax-deductible- saving you money next year!

Donation BoxPlease keep in mind that not all used items may be useful to The ARK's Thrift Shop (or any other thrift store), especially items that would not give dignity to the person that may receive them.

Explained Marty Freed, The ARK's Thrift Shop Director, in a recent article about how organizations benefit from people cleaning out their homes of clutter: “People that are buying used clothing, for the most part, are buying it because they can’t afford to buy new, and we’re not going to put stuff out that they would not feel proud to wear just like anybody else that shops at a store and gets the satisfaction out of buying something and wearing it."

Read the full article in RedEye about the tidying up trends impact on local thrift store here.

Donations of spring and summer clothes, shoes and outerwear (for children and adults) would be greatly appreciated as many shoppers are currently in need of these items. Old TVs (pre-flatscreen), cribs and mattresses cannot be accepted.

Items can be donated to The ARK's Thrift Shop during store hours (call 773.862.5011773.862.5011 for hours.) The Shop is located on 1302 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Donated items cannot be accepted at The ARK's office on California Ave. or at The ARK Northwest. You can donate items the first Sunday of every month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at The ARK Northwest, 3100 Dundee Rd., Suite 802, Northbrook.

For questions, or to schedule a pickup of large furniture items, please call the Shop at 773.862.5011773.862.5011. The ARK Thrift Shop is closed Friday afternoons and all day Saturday.

Make Your Jewish Legacy at The ARK

The ARK's Legacy Program is an opportunity to deepen your commitment to the Jewish value that we are all responsible for one another, today and well into the future. Anyone, regardless of their age and financial resources, can leave a legacy gift to The ARK through a bequest in a will, gift of life insurance, gift of IRA or pension funds, gift of cash or assets, charitable gift annuity, or other gifts. It's a gift that will make a difference in the lives of families in our community for years to come, and inspire others to care for our Jewish family.

Please join our Legacy Program by April 30 to help us reach our goal needed to receive a $10,000 grant from the JUF and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

To participate in The ARK's Legacy Program, simply fill out The ARK's non-binding Declaration of Intent (link is below) and return to us at mbriefman@arkchicago.org or fax to 773.973.6865, or email Marisa to have one sent to you.  All participants in The ARK's legacy program will be The ARK's guests at our Legacy Society Event at Ravinia this August.

For more information about The ARK's Legacy Program, please email Marisa at mbriefman@arkchicago.org (If you have already made a legacy gift to The ARK and would like us to be aware of it, please contact Marisa.)

"As my parents planted for me before I was born, so do I plant for those who will come after me." - Talmud        


Support for Create a Jewish Legacy comes from Life & Legacy, which is funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and an anonymous funder.

The ARK Dedicates Examination Room in Memory of Susan Sokol, a"h

Wife of ARK Co-Founder Remembered for Commitment to Helping Others

“Courageous.” “Kind.” “A role model.”

Those are just a few of the words used to describe Mrs. Susan Sokol, a"h, the late wife of ARK co-founder Dr. Binyomin Sokol. Mrs. Sokol was revered by many in the community for her extraordinary dedication and determination to help improve the lives of others, and for her unwavering support of her husband’s crucial role at The ARK. Dr. Sokol was instrumental in establishing The ARK. He served as The ARK’s first volunteer doctor when the agency opened its doors as a free medical clinic in 1971, and continued to serve in various roles at The ARK for decades – work that meant countless, unpaid hours away from his family.

As a fitting tribute to Mrs. Sokol, The ARK has named what was Dr. Sokol’s favorite medical examination room at The ARK in her memory. The ARK hosted a dedication ceremony on Friday, February 5 – an event that was attended by a standing-room only audience comprised of family members, friends, ARK clients, current and former board members, staff and volunteers.

“We could not be more proud of the fact that The ARK is so closely identified with the name Sokol. Dr. and Mrs. Sokol’s chesed has led to thousands of Jewish Chicagoans receiving the vital support and care they needed,” commented Dr. Marc Swatez, Executive Director of The ARK. “None of what Dr. Sokol accomplished would have been possible without his wife’s support. It is therefore fitting that we dedicate an examination room in our Medical Clinic to her memory."

Supporting her husband’s volunteer work was just one of the many ways that Mrs. Sokol had a tremendous impact on the community.

“My wife was a Dr. Sokol In Front of the Susan Sokol Examination Roomwoman who was very kind and giving,” described Dr. Sokol of his late wife. “She gave of herself, whatever she had…she would never give up, trying again and again to relieve the pain of an older boy or girl.”

“Mrs. Sokol was indescribably extraordinary,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Eichenstein. Rabbi Eichenstein, an esteemed community leader known for his visionary leadership, compassion and generosity, was instrumental in the founding of The ARK. “How she survived those early years when The ARK was being formed by our ad-hoc group that had miracles happening every day at that time, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it took superhuman strength of character and devotion.”

“She was a role model for all the women in the community,” explained Rabbi Shlomo Tenenbaum, Director of Spiritual Enrichment at The ARK. “She did chesed in her home at the highest level – things that almost nobody would do.”

Those “things” included taking in people who otherwise would have been homeless.

“When we went to the house, we would probably find somebody staying in the house that could have been from any segment of Klal Yisrael, and be living in the house anywhere from a few days to a few months,” recalled Dr. Sokol. “All these people, every guest, was treated…like the most important person in the world - because in Susan’s eyes, they were royalty.”

The plaque that hangs on the wall outside of the examination room is a testament to the Sokols’ legacy- a legacy that, in the words of Rabbi Tenenbaum, “will continue to live on in our hearts.” 

 

Donate to a family in need (Matanot Le'Evyonim)

03/04/16

100% of your donation will be distributed to the needy on Purim day.

3 easy ways to donate:

1. Donate online at www.arkchicago.org/donate
Select “Purim-Matanot Le'Evyonim” in the Gift Designation field; then enter the appropriate amount on the next page.

2. By phone: 773-681-8980

3. In person at either of our two offices:

The ARK, 6450 N. California, Chicago, IL 60645
**Special hours on Purim day, Thursday, March 24: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The ARK Northwest, 3100 Dundee Rd., Suite 802, Northbrook, IL, 60062
**Special hours on Purim day, Thursday, March 24: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Questions? Call Yehudis Gerstein at 773-681-8980 or email ygerstein@arkchicago.org.

Happy Purim!

 

Sponsor ARK Mishloach Manot

03/04/16

Sponsor ARK Mishloach Manot at $36.00 per Mishloach Manot package.

4 easy ways to donate:

1. Donate online at www.arkchicago.org/donate
Select “Purim-Mishloach Manot” in the Gift Designation field; then enter the appropriate amount on the next page.

2. Mail your check to The ARK, 6450 N. California, Chicago, IL 60645

3. By phone: 773-681-8980

4. In person at either of our two offices:

The ARK, 6450 N. California, Chicago, IL 60645
**Special hours on Purim day, Thursday, March 24: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The ARK Northwest, 3100 Dundee Rd., Suite 802, Northbrook, IL, 60062
**Special hours on Purim day, Thursday, March 24: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Questions? Call Yehudis Gerstein at 773-681-8980 or email ygerstein@arkchicago.org.

Happy Purim!

 

Little Girl, Big Heart

Seven-Year Old Pledges To Donate Portion of Her Allowance to Help Others

Recently, The ARK received a handwritten letter from seven-year old Hannah. In a beautiful act of generosity, Hannah promised part of her allowance to help others.

“I’m going to every week donate three dollars to your business to help the Jews,” Hannah wrote.Hannah, left, pictured with her mother, Becca, father, Sam and sister, Lily

Hannah's big heart stems from her parents, Sam and Becca, who have instilled in their children a strong connection to their Jewish heritage. It is a message that has resonated with Hannah.

“When she’s in public school, she wants to do as much as she can to promote Judaism,” explained Hannah's mother, Becca.

Sam and Becca originally came up with the idea to donate a portion of Hannah’s allowance to a charity.

“We always feel that it’s important to give back, and that it helps you appreciate the things you have when you think about people who have less,” Becca said. “It’s important to share and make sure that others in your community are supported.”

The choice to donate to The ARK, however, was Hannah’s.

“I want to help the Jewish people,” Hannah said. “I want to help them find homes and food, and help them survive.”

Those are very big words from a little girl. For our part, The ARK promises that we will use every single dollar Hannah spends wisely, ensuring it provides food, medicine and other basic necessities for Chicagoland Jews in need.

From the bottom on our hearts, we want to thank Becca and the thousands of people of all ages who make The ARK's incredible work possible.

The ARK Dedicates Examination Room in Memory of Susan Sokol, a"h

Wife of ARK Co-Founder Remembered for Commitment to Helping Others

“Courageous.” “Kind.” “A role model.”

Those are just a few of the words used to describe Mrs. Susan Sokol, a"h, the late wife of ARK co-founder Dr. Binyomin Sokol. Mrs. Sokol was revered by many in the community for her extraordinary dedication and determination to help improve the lives of others, and for her unwavering support of her husband’s crucial role at The ARK. Dr. Sokol was instrumental in establishing The ARK. He served as The ARK’s first volunteer doctor when the agency opened its doors as a free medical clinic in 1971, and continued to serve in various roles at The ARK for decades – work that meant countless, unpaid hours away from his family.

As a fitting tribute to Mrs. Sokol, The ARK has named what was Dr. Sokol’s favorite medical examination room at The ARK in her memory. The ARK hosted a dedication ceremony on Friday, February 5 – an event that was attended by a standing-room only audience comprised of family members, friends, ARK clients, current and former board members, staff and volunteers.

“We could not be more proud of the fact that The ARK is so closely identified with the name Sokol. Dr. and Mrs. Sokol’s chesed has led to thousands of Jewish Chicagoans receiving the vital support and care they needed,” commented Dr. Marc Swatez, Executive Director of The ARK. “None of what Dr. Sokol accomplished would have been possible without his wife’s support. It is therefore fitting that we dedicate an examination room in our Medical Clinic to her memory."

Supporting her husband’s volunteer work was just one of the many ways that Mrs. Sokol had a tremendous impact on the community.

“My wife was a Dr. Sokol In Front of the Susan Sokol Examination Roomwoman who was very kind and giving,” described Dr. Sokol of his late wife. “She gave of herself, whatever she had…she would never give up, trying again and again to relieve the pain of an older boy or girl.”

“Mrs. Sokol was indescribably extraordinary,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Eichenstein. Rabbi Eichenstein, an esteemed community leader known for his visionary leadership, compassion and generosity, was instrumental in the founding of The ARK. “How she survived those early years when The ARK was being formed by our ad-hoc group that had miracles happening every day at that time, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it took superhuman strength of character and devotion.”

“She was a role model for all the women in the community,” explained Rabbi Shlomo Tenenbaum, Director of Spiritual Enrichment at The ARK. “She did chesed in her home at the highest level – things that almost nobody would do.”

Those “things” included taking in people who otherwise would have been homeless.

“When we went to the house, we would probably find somebody staying in the house that could have been from any segment of Klal Yisrael, and be living in the house anywhere from a few days to a few months,” recalled Dr. Sokol. “All these people, every guest, was treated…like the most important person in the world - because in Susan’s eyes, they were royalty.”

The plaque that hangs on the wall outside of the examination room is a testament to the Sokols’ legacy- a legacy that, in the words of Rabbi Tenenbaum, “will continue to live on in our hearts.” 

 

ARK Helps Clients Get Heart Healthy

02/01/16

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. But there is hope; heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their conditions.

Throughout the month of February (which is National American Heart Month), The ARK will be helping hundreds of ARK clients take steps to lower their risk of developing heart disease. The ARK's "heart healthy" activities include:

  • Free blood pressure screening, February 10, from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. at The ARK, 6450 N. California Ave. (No appointment needed.)  Blood pressure screening is also available at any time; clients should ask their case manager about this and other free medical services available through The ARK's medical clinic.

  • Special "deals" in our food pantry on select foods that are good for heart health. We will also encourage simple dietary modifications such as using a salt substitute.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:

  • Watch your weight.

  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

  • Get active and eat healthy

For more information, please contact The ARK at 773-973-1000.