October 10, 2020
October 10, 2020




Audrena Spence and her team of dedicated staff distributed food for 2,042 households at the Calumet Center on three subsequent Fridays in June.

They partnered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and local elected officials. Staff and volunteers were mobilized, and they set up in a nearby parking lot to offer fresh produce and other food items. This effort provided critical access for a community facing barriers related to food insecurity and transportation.


Carlos Smith, a Calumet Center staff member and one of the organizers, shares:

“We provided emergency assistance, and emergency happiness as well. People would line up as early as 7:00 a.m. for the food distribution. They were excited to see Calumet Center working on behalf of their community.”

Advocate Health also got involved, distributing protective face masks each week. One week, several people asked if pet food was available. Hearing the need, the organizers arranged for the Anti-Cruelty Society to distribute pet food the following week.


As the food distributions continue, more staff will take more ownership over the effort, rotating monthly to coordinate and bring in fresh perspectives.

“This effort has brought life to the site,” Audrena shares.

The idea was born from discussions with staff about the needs of their clients as well as their needs. This is indicative of the responsiveness and inclusive leadership Audrena brings to Calumet Center. It’s not only about bringing staff together for action in response to the community’s challenges; it’s about giving them opportunities to lead.

Calumet Center took ownership of this effort and succeeded in helping to meet the needs of the community.


“When you help people grow and become leaders, and give them opportunities so they're prepared,” Audrena shares, “people deliver their best.”