Street Outreach is more than your average job – it’s a lifestyle. Relationships are built through blood, sweat, and tears over years and this one, in particular, was rife with grief and turmoil, as well as community building and healing. It began with an anticipation of well deserved accolades and opportunities to share our vision and work throughout the country. There is a saying that goes, “If you want God to laugh, tell him your plans.” The pandemic not only distorted our reality but it challenged the work in unimaginable ways. Improvisation was a necessary switch from in person weekly groups towards remote programming. We persisted engagement with our participants since our empathy understands that although they are labeled at-risk, we were all at-promise and full of hope at some point in our lives.

Covid-19 hit our community especially hard. We were the epicenter of the Chicago pandemic twice this year and were tasked with ensuring PPE was distributed to our neighbors. Our world was turned upside down once again as the murder of George Floyd amplified our profession to what felt like a year’s work condensed into five days: May 31st until the fourth of June was a week that lasted an infinite amount of time, waking up anticipating the unknown, yet rising to the occasion with an unwavering sense of duty that gave a whole new definition to the title of Essential Worker.

As the second half of the year began with downtown Chicago bridges being raised, uprisings spreading to neighborhoods, and our team working over 16 hour days, justice had not been served; we embarked on a new endeavor to organize community members, giving street outreach experience to become peacemakers in their communities and aide us in waging peace on war. The Pandemic exacerbated the fragile American economy as families lost jobs and our team blessed our neighborhood with food on a weekly basis; feeding our people is the basis of sustaining our economy instead of an imaginary social construct. From our team to yours, have a blessed Centros Year and remember that we will get through this, together.