Together We Cope

Nonprofit Heroes

Helping people in need throughout the South & Southwest suburbs

Whoever came up with the name “Together We Cope” really nailed it.
Though the nonprofit organization’s name isn’t specific about its services, the moniker perfectly captures the heart of its mission.
With a slate of wrap-around services, Together We Cope helps people in need throughout 27 communities in the south and southwest suburbs. Based in Tinley Park, the agency provides assistance with food, rent, mortgage, temporary housing, utility payments, medication, and even clothing and home furnishings.
According to Mandi Williams, marketing and fundraising manager, Together We Cope acts as a homelessness prevention agency, offering a bridge of assistance for individuals and families experiencing financial crisis.
It’s a mission that remains as crucial today as it was at the organization’s inception in 1982, as Together We Cope assists a groundswell of Southland residents who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now during COVID, we’re helping our normal numbers of people, and also anyone who’s never had to experience job loss,” Williams said. 
“For some people, never in a million years did they think their job would go away. But then this pandemic hit, and now they need assistance.”
Regardless of how their need came about, people can contact Together We Cope for help paying their bills, offering a boost when it’s most needed to keep families from losing their homes or having their utilities shut off.
In partnership with Greater Chicagoland Food Depository, Together We Cope also runs a food pantry that is available on weekdays when the office is open. The pantry provides fresh meats, produce, cans and packaged goods to about 5,000 people every month.
While filling their stomachs, the groceries people get from Together We Cope also ease their minds, Williams said.
“Not being able to put food on the table is everyone’s worst nightmare,” she said. “This is one less thing for them to worry about. They can come once per month to get food, and then they can focus on other things they need to do to help their situation during this time.”
The 22 part-time staff members at Together We Cope had to create an alternative food distribution routine during the pandemic. Instead of clients picking up food inside the pantry building, they can pull up in front and a staff member brings groceries out to their car. It turns out the alteration ended up being an innovation that improved food pantry operations, Williams said. Together We Cope staff will probably keep the new pickup process even when it’s safe for clients to come back inside.
Assisting so many more people in need during the pandemic has been costly for the nonprofit agency, but Williams said they saw more help from their normal funding sources.
“Between the grants and foundations we get funding from, they increased their typical donations and grants to us,” Williams said. “Even our regular donors and non-regular donors opened up even more to help.”
With the assistance Together We Cope staff offer, they keep community members housed, warm, fed, clothed and cared for until they can regain stability and no longer need aid from the agency.
Even as people are clients of Together We Cope, Williams said they’re not inclined to take more than what their family requires.
“Some people accept it all because they’re in such dire need, but then we have others who just use the food pantry,” she said. “They don’t want to take resources away from someone else who might need them more.”
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