Naperville teams up with Loaves & Fishes Community Services for disaster relief program

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Three years after a tornado devastated a neighborhood on the south side of Naperville, the city has joined forces with a local nonprofit to better prepare for any new disasters.

The Naperville City Council unanimously approved a plan with Loaves & Fishes Community Services on a disaster relief program at the council’s June 4 meeting.

Loaves & Fishes, Naperville partner for disaster relief

The partnership stems from the aftermath of the June 2021 EF-3 tornado in Naperville’s Ranchview neighborhood, which damaged hundreds of homes, leaving some uninhabitable.

Neighbors and school communities collected gift cards for those impacted, but city documents say there was “no organized fund” to assist in disaster recovery. Some folks donated to the American Red Cross, but not all funds reached Naperville residents impacted by the tornado.

The recently approved relief program will have Loaves & Fishes manage and administer all disaster funds and work directly with donors. The nonprofit would provide basic needs, like food, counseling, and shelter.

“People who want to help could make contributions through Loaves & Fishes,” said Executive Vice President of Advancement at Loaves & Fishes Nancy Wiersum. “Now these are designated dollars, they would go specifically for those affected by the disaster.”

Executive Vice President of Programs at Loaves & Fishes Janet Derrick said the new agreement would help both her nonprofit, and the city operate in their scopes during disaster.

“What we learned with the tornado is we all have some expertise,” said Derrick. “We will have that constant loop of communication and really helping individual families get through that troubling time.” 

Naperville will appoint a representative to serve as a liaison between the city and Loaves & Fishes and help circulate pertinent information to the public during a disaster.

“Loaves and Fishes has case management experience for decades,” said assistant to the city manager Marcie Schatz. “They work in the business.”

The dais approved the program with one change: adding two members of the public to the disaster relief program advisory committee, one chosen by the city, and another chosen by Loaves & Fishes.

Though Wiersem said she hopes the new program is never needed…

“When the disaster happens, we need to move immediately,” said Wiersum.

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