Care for Real Beginnings


“Care for Real is ECC’s oldest program. It was established in 1970 in response to a request by the Edgewater Clergy and Rabbi Association to develop a program to deal with the increasing number of indigent Edgewater residents who sought assistance from the individual churches and synagogues.
A special committee was formed to study the situation; the result was community-wide emergency food, clothing and referral service for Edgewater’s needy, which ECC named Care For Real. The service would be operated by the Council, but primarily funded by the churches and synagogues, who would refer individuals coming to them for assistance to the community-wide program.
The program provided several advantages over each organization offering its own assistance: (1) proof of residence and need would be required; (2) records would be maintained of services obtained; (3) the service would be available during set hours. In this way, there would be assurance that the limited community resources available would be distributed equitably among those who needed them.
Originally, Care for Real was housed in the ECC’s office. In 1976, when ECC moved its offices, Care for Real obtained separate quarters. It has occupied several different locations since and is currently housed at 5459 N. Broadway.
For the first 11 years, service was provided solely by volunteers, including a coordinator. In 1981 when the voluntary coordinator retired, a director was hired; however, volunteers continue to provide the life blood of the service—in interviewing, packing food, fundraising and oversight.
While Edgewater’s religious institutions continue to contribute the majority of the funding, approximately 40% has been raised in other ways. These have included:
–An annual walk-a-thon;
–Annual or semi-annual mail appeals to the Council membership and other individual supports;
–A community tag day;
–Contributions from suburban religious congregations;
–Monthly contributions from ECC board members; and
–Individual bequests
Food remains the primary service rendered, followed by donated clothing. However, on a limited emergency basis, help is given with finding temporary housing, payment of rent, medical and utility bills, carfare, job assistance, as well as referral to agencies that can provide additional assistance. In addition, during the holiday season, packages food and gifts are prepared for between 80 to 100 Edgewater families.
The amount of service rendered has grown over the years. In 1996, an average of 3651 families representing 8029 individuals were helped each month through the Care-for-Real program.”
—from ECC Supplement in Spring/Summer 1997.