Marcella – Retired Managing Director

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating 25 Years of Community Service

How to make a 25 year long story short without losing the affect? Those first few years were very challenging. Searching for programs to complete European American Association's (EM) mission, paying the bills, enduring several break-in's even a fire. Only through the sheer determination of the founder, John Herman, did this not-for-profit survive.

The direction of EAA is best described in its moto and mission statement and it's best met by its planned program design which is to help those in need with their basic human requirement of food, shelter and work.

·                       LIHEAP — With CEDA as a partner from the beginning — EAA has been able to help thousands of low income people pay their gas and electric bills

·                       Our Food Pantry — From almost the beginning and thanks to our memberships with organizations such as USDA, FEMA and Chicago Food Depository, EAA is able to defend against hunger in our community.

·                       Our Community Development Program - Through our partnering with HUD EAA was able to help restore communities by breathing life into properties which were destined to be destroyed, create jobs, place homeless families in a safe environment and allow lower income individuals and families to realize the American dream of owning their own home. After a few years on hold due to the economy, EAA is now working with CHA offering clean affordable housing to low income families.

·                       IDOA Community Care Program - In 1993 EM became part of this program with 1 Homemaker and 1 Client. Today EM employs 600 Homecare Aides and services 1100 senior clients. However it wasn't easy. There was a time from 2008-2011 the state was almost bankrupt and more than 9 months late paying us our Homecare Aid hours. Thanks to EAA's other programs and unlike many other organizations with the same problems our Homecare Aides were paid on time and EM survived those lean years.

I was a volunteer for 6 years, Managing Director for 13 years and presently a consultant. My years at EAA were demanding, sometimes overwhelming and at times like a roller coaster: however, it was also the most exciting, educational and extraordinary experience of my life! I was used every ounce of knowledge gained throughout my previous working years, and given permission to stretch my creativity and imagination to its limits. Plus I met some of the most wonderful people and I can honestly say there was not one second in all those years where I was bored.

In 1990 I saw the office before it was an office. It was located in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago and I wondered (along with many of his friends) "what is this man thinking?" On February 7, 1991 John Herman opened European American Association with one volunteer at the front desk, no copy machine, no computers and everything was done by hand. Now it's a functioning office taking up three floors with 20 office employees, each with a computer and telephone on their desk. Until the past few years, our growth was strictly word of mouth. Currently EM uses tools such as newsletters, calendars, lanyards and pens to make itself known. As you use this calendar, I hope you enjoy seeing the past 25 years in each passing month. We all need a helping hand now and again and extending that hand is what European American Association is all about.

"Helping People Survive Today and Prepare for Tomorrow"

 

Sincerely,

Marcella Wittinger, Retired- Managing Director

 

 

 

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