Posted: Nov. 22, 2022
As the Mayor of Tinley Park and a board member at Together We Cope, I was especially saddened to learn there had been a fire in the back room at the homeless prevention agency, which has been coming to the rescue of south suburban families in crisis since 1982. Now, the agency itself needs a rescue.
The fire in the early morning hours on Nov. 21 at its building at 17010 S. Oak Park Avenue in Downtown Tinley prompted a temporary closure of the agency just three days before Thanksgiving, and on that very day, a significant holiday food program was set to begin. The children's Christmas program may also be impacted, depending on how quickly repairs can be made to the building.
While the sprinkler system and early arrival of the fire department extinguished the blaze quickly, there was extensive smoke and water damage to the agency's Nu2u Resale Shop, food pantry and offices. Proceeds from sales at the resale shop constitute a significant source of income for the agency, roughly $30,000 per month.
Together We Cope provides resources to families in temporary crisis, enabling them to stay in their homes. For 40 years, it has bridged the gap for south suburban residents in 27 communities by supplying food, shelter, clothing and referrals, empowering them to return to self-sufficiency.
With more than 200 volunteers and generous community donations of food, clothing, household goods and groceries donated and purchased from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, TWC serves more than 1,400 families monthly. Those families include recently unemployed workers, elderly and disabled people on fixed incomes, grandparents raising children, and victims of fire and other disasters. Also seeking assistance are single parents trying to make ends meet, people facing catastrophic medical expenses, and underemployed workers without benefits.
According to Executive Director Kathryn Straniero, the TWC mission only works because the community is loyal to the cause and continuously supports the agency's programs. "Keeping people in their homes during a crisis is critical for maintaining the stability of the family and the community," she said, "and the support of our friends makes this happen year after year."
I want to thank the Tinley Park Fire Department and dispatch staff for their quick response and hard work. I'm very proud of our first responders here in Tinley Park, and it's because of them that the damage to the building wasn't more severe.
For more information or to donate, visit www.togetherwecope.org. You can also send a check made payable to Together We Cope to 17010 S. Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park, IL 60477.
Please consider donating to Together We Cope to help us rebuild, serve our 27 communities, and renovate the 10,000-square-foot facility.