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Stories of Impact: Making a Difference During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During this time of physical distancing and isolation, how are you staying connected with one another? How are you practicing your faith? How are you caring for those who are most vulnerable – those facing food insecurity, homelessness, mental illness and lack of resources?

See how individuals and communities are making a positive impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.  By sharing their stories, we can raise awareness of the work they are doing and inspire others to make a difference, as well.

Please send your stories and photos to Cindy Novak at, and we will post them here. Thank you!

Giving Back Full Circle

To show her gratitude and say thank you for the support she, her husband, Nicholas, and son, Reid, have received over the past year, Marita is giving back. She has donated clothing and other baby items for families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and has created care packages of toiletries and socks for those facing homelessness.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ivette Menendez, Community Connector with Advocate Health Care, and Nilda Garcia, Faith Community Nurse with Advocate, have been overwhelmed by the generosity and love shown by residents, like Marita.  “We are seeing acts of love by people who are full of love who want to support others,” Ivette said. “The pandemic is bringing people together.”  Read more.

Keeping Vigil

Aurora BayCare Medical Center—This is one of our Palliative Care Patient families as together they keep vigil outside of the window of their imminently dying loved one who has nine siblings (one which died just five days ago). Expressions of love and prayers go forth daily as individuals and groups of six or less family members seek to love on and affirm their brother, father, uncle and friend through his glass window and open heart.

Honored to virtually minister to patient and his beautiful family during these unprecedented times.

—Rev. Renée Lubinski, MDiv, BCC, PCSC, Palliative Care Chaplain

Health care heroes: ‘He will fuel me until the day I hang up my stethoscope’

I have been an emergency medicine physician for almost 20 years. I have worked through numerous disasters, and I’m used to the daily grind of heart attacks, gunshots, strokes, flu, traumas and more – it’s par for the course in my field. Yet nothing has made me feel the way I do about my “job” as this pandemic has — that knot-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach sensation while heading into work, comforted only by the empathetic faces of my colleagues who are going through the same.

I am grateful for their presence, knowing they are both literally and figuratively with me, that they understand and accept so profoundly the risks we take each day. I also hope that my friends and family forgive me for my lack of presence during this time — precisely when we need each other most — and that they realize that their words, their encouragement, and their small gestures that come my way daily are the fuel that gets me through each day. This is a story for all of us.  Read more.

See How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Bringing Out the Best in Our Communities

WFLD-TV FOX 32 CHICAGO: Dr Liz Regan, director of disaster medicine and preparedness at Advocate Christ Medical Center, shares why Wednesday’s delivery of meals for team members is welcome support from the community. View video. Further coverage: WGN-TV 9 CHICAGO: View video.

WITI-TV FOX 6 MILWAUKEE:‘People need something right now:’ Teacher launches online movement to spread joy worldwide. Aurora Health Care emergency room nurse Erika Breeser is using a chalked sidewalk greeting to share a smile. View video.

How people are helping healthcare heroes get by.


Inspirational Messages

“And the People Stayed Home” by Kitty O’Meara

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.


Belfast Covid-19 Response Team Urges Public to see Empty Streets as ‘Love in Action’
“When you go out and see the empty streets,
the empty stadiums, the empty train platforms,
don’t say to yourself,” it looks like the end of the world.”
What you are seeing is love in action.
What you are seeing, in that negative space, is how much we do care for each other,
 For our grandparents, our parents, our brothers and sisters,
for people we will never meet.
People will lose jobs over this.
Some will lose their businesses.
And some will lose their lives.
All the more reason to take a moment, when you’re out on your walk
or on your way to the store, or just watching the news,
to look into the emptiness and marvel at all of that love.
Let it fill you and sustain you.
It isn’t the end of the world.
It is the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness.”
*Poem origin Belfast Telegraph Digital, March 26, 2020.

“Lockdown” by Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan living in Ireland

Yes there is fear. Yes there is isolation. Yes there is panic buying. Yes there is sickness. Yes there is even death.

But, they say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise, you can hear the birds again. They say that after just a few weeks of quiet, the sky is no longer thick with fumes, but blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi, people are singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood so that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting. All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way. All over the world people are waking up to a new reality to how big we really are. To how little control we really have. To what really matters. To Love.

So we pray and we remember that yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul. Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love. Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic.

The birds are singing again. The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul, and though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing.

A Prayer from Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David-Judea Congregation in Los Angeles:

“Every hand that we don’t shake must be a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.

Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise. 

So, as we keep a level of social distance, let us all remain spiritually near to each other, by responding to this health emergency with love and care for everyone’s well-being. 

May Adonai give us the wisdom to continue to react appropriately to this crisis and heal those who have been infected.” 

A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.