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DuPage Foundation Grants $20,000 to West Suburban Community Pantry to Help Woodridge Families Displaced by Tornado

DuPage Foundation recently granted $20,000 to West Suburban Community Pantry (WSCP) to help families from the Woodridge Country Club complex who were displaced on December 9 due to uninhabitable conditions from lingering tornado damage. The funds were granted from DuPage Foundation’s Emergency Fund to support a case manager and budget consultant to determine and manage the needs of the affected families.

After an EF-3 tornado ripped through the Village of Woodridge and surrounding areas on the evening of June 20, 2021, the 56-unit Country Club complex suffered extensive damage and nearly half of the residents instantly lost their homes. Other condo owners and renters who had minimal or no damage were able to stay in their homes.

On December 7, the property management company sent residents a notice to vacate the building by December 17, as the water would have to be turned off in the entire complex to winterize all units and avoid further damage to the interior of the buildings. According to the letter, necessary repairs to the exterior needed to be completed prior to interior repairs, but were delayed due to supply chain issues. When a pipe burst in the building on December 9, all remaining residents were asked to leave the premises immediately and were relocated to a nearby hotel.

Seeking emergency assistance, Village of Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham reached out to Barb Szczepaniak, DuPage Foundation vice president for programs, to inquire if there were resources available for the displaced families through the Foundation’s Emergency Fund. The Village was already working with WSCP to provide case management for victims of the tornado, and needed additional help as the Country Club complex crisis unfolded.

“It was heartbreaking to learn these families were being told to leave their homes so close to the holidays,” said Szczepaniak. “Our Grant Committee took swift action to approve funding for West Suburban Community Pantry to support a case manager and budget consultant to provide the essential assistance needed for these families during an unimaginable situation. The Foundation’s Emergency Fund was created to help us effectively respond to the local not-for-profit organizations that are on the front lines during emergencies.” 

WSCP was able to find an available case manager to provide short-term assistance and a budget consultant to work with the families, both from a local practice in Downers Grove. Besides not being able to live in their units, all residents from the Country Club complex are still required to pay condo association dues on top of their rent or mortgage payment and taxes.

“The long-term recovery from a tornado can take months, even years,” said WSCP Executive Director Laura Coyle. “Our neighbors in Woodridge continue to experience setbacks that are detrimental to their ability to rebuild their lives. We are so grateful to the DuPage Foundation for their support, enabling crucial case management for these families. With this generous gift, we will be better able to connect families in need with the resources available in the community.”

“By supporting the costs of engaging a temporary case manager and budget consultant through this grant, we are providing more than just immediate, short-term relief for these families,” said Megan Shebik, chair of the Foundation’s Grant Committee. “These are victims of a natural disaster that are going to need help and assistance over the next few months as they find new housing and their new normal. DuPage Foundation’s Emergency Fund is a vital resource that ensures we can continue to answer the call for help when members of our community are facing a life-altering crisis.”

Donations to DuPage Foundation’s Emergency Fund can be made online at dupagefoundation.org/emergencyfund or by sending a check to:

DuPage Foundation
c/o Emergency Fund
3000 Woodcreek Dr., Ste. 310
Downers Grove, IL 60515

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