Social Service Organization The Ark Celebrates Reopening of $21.5M Renovated Facility Serving Chicago’s Jewish Community

The Ark CEO Marna Goldwin speaks during a grand reopening celebration at a renovated flagship facility on the Far North Side on May 10, 2024. Goldwin is joined by state Rep. Kevin Olickal (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago). (Eunice Alpasan / WTTW News)The Ark CEO Marna Goldwin speaks during a grand reopening celebration at a renovated flagship facility on the Far North Side on May 10, 2024. Goldwin is joined by state Rep. Kevin Olickal (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago). (Eunice Alpasan / WTTW News)

A longtime social service organization serving Chicagoland’s Jewish community, The Ark, celebrated its grand reopening following a two-year, $21.5 million renovation of its flagship location on the Far North Side.

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Staff, volunteers, funders and local elected officials gathered in The Ark’s expanded market-style kosher food pantry Friday to celebrate the organization’s renovated facility.

The facility now has the capacity to serve an additional 1,000 clients per year, bringing the total to about 5,000 clients annually. The new building is 60% larger than the original.

The renovations include a four-fold increase in the size of its food pantry, which features new walk-in refrigerators and freezers. The pharmacy was relocated to the first floor for better accessibility, and the community space doubled in size.

Susan Hoffman, 72, who lives in West Rogers Park, has used services at The Ark for 15 years.

“I take dance and music therapy and art classes that I really love,” Hoffman said. “I listened to the rabbi’s Torah and Shabbat classes, which are incredibly meaningful to me. ... The Ark has provided me with support, friendship and a community that cares.”

The Ark offers a variety of social services such as employment and financial counseling, medical care, mental health services, food assistance, emergency housing assistance and spiritual enrichment.

Renovations at The Ark include a four-fold increase in the size of its food pantry, which features new walk-in refrigerators and freezers. (Eunice Alpasan / WTTW News)Renovations at The Ark include a four-fold increase in the size of its food pantry, which features new walk-in refrigerators and freezers. (Eunice Alpasan / WTTW News)

Marna Goldwin became The Ark’s CEO in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a time of increased need for the organization’s clients, she said.

“Many of our clients didn’t have access to technology, they’re relying on their jobs to truly make ends meet,” Goldwin said. “It was very stressful for our clients, but as well as for our staff.”

The cost of food and housing is one of the biggest challenges that many of The Ark clients are facing today, according to Goldwin. She said she hopes the new building makes clients more comfortable receiving services and helps to remove the stigma often associated with asking for help.

The Ark, founded more than 50 years ago, has been housed at its current location on the Far North Side for more than 30 years. The area is considered one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse in the city.

“As we welcome refugees and immigrants every single day, I look at The Ark,” state Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) said during the event. “I look at what The Ark is doing here and being transformational, redefining what it means to mean one-stop shopping.”

The organization has been serving clients in its new facility since late March. It plans on unveiling an online ordering system for its food pantry in June.

Contact Eunice Alpasan: @eunicealpasan | 773-509-5362 | [email protected]


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