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Nonprofits inspired me with their tenacity during COVID, let’s all help them change lives in 2021


Ever since starting Mekky Media Relations in 2016, I have worked hard to seek out nonprofit organizations doing life-changing work and partner with them to tell their stories. This has been a foundation of my business for two reasons: One, I know that the powerful PR we are able to provide can make a meaningful impact for organizations doing important work. Two, this aspect of my job is deeply rewarding -- there’s nothing better than giving a nonprofit the exposure it needs to grow and help even more people.


Our list of nonprofit clients is long. We’ve served about 20 organizations over the past four and a half years, and I’m so proud of the diversity among these nonprofits and the wide range of needs they meet.


I’m also proud of the fact that we’ve been able to expand our services to nonprofit clients throughout 2020 and so far, this year. We’ve brought on several new partners and have helped make them stronger in the face of COVID-19, achieving media coverage that showcases how they’ve pivoted to meet the needs of their communities.


Now that we’re well into 2021 and many of us are looking forward to better days ahead, I’ve been reflecting on the difficult journey our nonprofit clients -- and all nonprofits -- have experienced over the past year. At a time when their services were needed more than ever, many of them were stalled by the restrictions the pandemic placed on our lives, and by a reduction in the funding that keeps them going. Yet, they did not give up. They worked harder, got more creative and continued to find a way to make a difference.


If you’re inspired by the tenacity of the organizations that give so much to so many, regardless of the challenges that come their way, I hope you’ll join me in finding a way to make a difference yourself. There are so many opportunities to help change lives through a donation of time or money.


Here are some of the Mekky clients that inspire me and ways that people can help them in their missions to save and change lives:


Chicago Lights’ Gala of Hope at Home was just held on March 5. This event is usually a glamorous in-person affair. We’re so proud of them for making it such a success in the virtual format. You can still donate at this link, to support programs such as mentoring, social services, academic support, career development and arts education for youth and adults. Chicago Lights has successfully transitioned programs to a virtual format during the pandemic. Many volunteer opportunities have been put on hold for now, but when they pick up again, volunteers will be needed for things like tutoring, serving meals to students and chaperoning field trips.

Chicago Scholars is marking its 25th anniversary this year, celebrating continued growth in creating college access and mentorship for Chicago’s under-resourced high school students. Check out this interview on The Jam with interim CEO Jeffery Beckham Jr. and an inspiring Chicago Scholar. Chicago Scholars is currently seeking volunteers to assess the interview videos of academically ambitious high school students who have applied to become Scholars.

The ARK is also celebrating a big anniversary -- 50 years of supporting Chicagoland Jews who are facing adversity, helping them navigate toward self-reliance through numerous social service programs. Here’s a blog we wrote that illustrates the employment services program that has helped so many, especially during the pandemic. Many of The Ark’s programs are currently virtual, so there are limited volunteer opportunities. But some help is needed for the food pantry, as well as drivers to deliver food packages.

Start Early is based on the belief that inequality starts at birth, and the negative impacts last a lifetime. The organization offers early learning programs, professional development, research, community connections, and policy and advocacy -- all intended to change the trajectory of a child’s life. Part of Start Early’s work was recently featured in this Block Club Chicago article. You can learn more about the mission at the annual Start Early luncheon, which will be held virtually on April 22. This free event will feature a diverse collection of voices speaking to the power of starting early.

Triage Cancer provides free education on the practical and legal issues that arise after a cancer diagnosis. This mission is personal to me, as I am a cancer survivor myself. I’m proud to serve on the Board of Directors and help guide this organization that provides such valuable, practical assistance to patients and caregivers when they need it most. I encourage anyone who is faced with cancer, whether their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of someone they care about, to visit the website and explore the information and resources available. There are also several ways to support Triage Cancer so it can have an even greater impact.

The Center for Enriched Living (CEL) provides life-changing opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I’m so proud to once again partner with this organization in March, which is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. And I look forward to hosting the famous Chefs’ Night on June 28. This virtual event will feature the heartwarming success stories of CEL, as well as some incredible cooking demos and featured restaurants. I hope you’ll join us!


Thank you for taking a few minutes to learn about some of my favorite nonprofits and a few ways that we can all make a difference. Our support is needed now more than ever, as our community begins the long process of recovering from the pandemic.

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