Client Spotlight- Meet Charles

Watch Charles HERE

Charles, a Chicagoan since the age of 2, a northsider since 2007, and a part of the Common Pantry community since 2017.

Charles first came to Common Pantry when he was experiencing homelessness, living on the streets and staying at shelters. He heard about Common Pantry from others as being a place that was more than just food. It was a place where he could escape to and receive much needed help. From receiving help to obtain a state ID, to using the phone to stay on top of job opportunities, to finding a community that he looks at like his family. He came here for just a hot meal, but ended up finding so much more.

Charles was able to find housing and stability that improved his life greatly. He continued to rely on the pantry for monthly groceries and camaraderie. But during Covid, Charles found himself facing serious health issues involving his diabetes. He went to the hospital to deal with initial complications and ended up learning the extent of his situation that led to him making the decision to amputate his leg.

He stayed in the hospital for a few months afterwards to heal and learn how to live without two legs. He was used to walking anywhere he needed to be. Suddenly, he was in pain and struggling to adapt to his new normal. There were even times when Charles would wake up and fall out of bed, thinking he had two good legs.

During this time, the Common Pantry team had no idea what was happening. They asked around to see if anyone had heard from him or had seen him, but no one had. The entire team hoped for the best and that they would see his smiling face soon.

Months later and when Charles was fully recovered, he was able to make his way back to the pantry and was welcomed with open arms.

With it now being over a year since he was in the hospital, Charles can drive his “lexus” (aka what he calls his wheelchair) like a bus, being able to laugh anytime there is a bump or stumble.

He continues to receive groceries and social services at Common Pantry, though now it looks a little different. He was once able to walk in, receive a hot meal and pick up his monthly groceries and now he has to make two buses and wait outside as there are stairs at every entrance preventing Charles from ever coming inside. He is also now working with Abby, our Licensed Clinical Social Worker, to apply for the accessibility resources he needs.

Beyond all the services he has received throughout the years, what Charles really values is that he is truly heard. He knows that when he wants to talk and vent about challenges that there will always be someone willing to listen and give positive feedback to help carry him through the day. Charles knows that Common Pantry really cares.

It’s no surprise that Charles is excited for us to move to our new home at 3908 N. Lincoln Ave. He will once again be able to come inside with ease. No steps or stairs involved. Charles will be able to roll right in the pantry to receive the same services.

Charles isn’t Common Pantry’s only guest who is in a wheelchair or has mobility issues. The majority (75%) of our guests use a cart, cane, wheelchair or similar devices that creates greater stress when trying to gain access to food. While Common Pantry is dedicated to breaking down barriers to accessing food, we know we can’t fully do that in our current home. We are excited and look forward to our move this summer, knowing that mobility will no longer be a factor to receive services. Everyone will be able to receive the same services with greater accessibility.

Give today to support our mission and to help our guests like Charles who beyond receiving food, found his second home. CLICK HERE TO DONATE