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September 2022

Community Organization: New Life Centers

Community: Little Village

Good Doings: “Loving on” their community through mentoring, peacemaking, education, sports and food distribution!


The only joy I’ve ever gotten from running, is the moment I get to stop. Believe me I’ve tried to love it, but it never seems to love me back.

That is until I went to New Life Center’s El Grito 5K race* which IMHO is the best race ever! The Zumba dancing and the running pinatas; the Mariachi band at the turn around, and the to-die-for tamales (and Jarito!) at the finish line; the families, and street vendors, and colorful celebrations, and yes, the JOY – El Grito feels more like a party than a race!

* EL GRITO 2022 is COMING SOON: Sunday, September 11th!!

Of course, New Life Centers offers WAY more than a single race. In fact, they’re the heart of Little Village/La Villita, the neighborhood known as the “Mexico of the Midwest,” providing food to families, offering positive choices to young people with academics, arts, sports, mentoring, and stepping out onto the streets to stop the violence before someone gets hurt or the police are called. As their Executive Director Matt De Mateo likes to say, they “love on” on those who are hurting and together find reasons to hope, dreams to reach for, something to believe in.

When Covid-19 came, Little Village was hit hard from every corner, New Life Centers stepped up in so many ways, including expanding their food pantry to serve 6,000 families per week, up from 200 before the pandemic.

During the height of the pandemic, my son and I didn’t know what to do – just that we wanted to do SOMETHING, so we volunteered at New Life Center’s food pantry. It was a cold, gray day and we braced ourselves for a somber atmosphere. But instead, we felt the warmth of the staff and other volunteers, the beautiful energy that comes from stepping up to do what you can for others when times are hard. We left humbled, hopeful and even a little joyful. This community that was suffering so much, still had so much to give.

Fast forward to today: what was once just a space for handing cardboard boxes of food to local families waiting in a long car line is now the beautiful Pan de Vida Fresh Market bringing nourishment, food and yes, a little joy, to those in need.


New Life Centers welcomes support and volunteers across all its programming. Check out the links below for more information!

EL GRITO 5K: Run, walk, dance, eat tamales, celebrate and support New Life Center’s incredible work in Little Village. You can sign-up to volunteer HERE Registration and more info can be found HERE. HURRY – RACE DAY IS 9/11/22!!

Pan de Vida: Volunteers needed for all shifts and roles! Come on your own or organize a group!

Mentoring, Tutoring and Sports: New Life Centers meets people where they are and offer many paths to a happy, meaningful life. Follow your passion and check out all the ways you can share your joy – more info HERE

GIVE: If you’d like to help New Life to continue and deepen their work, you can make a contribution HERE

Thanks for reading and please be sure to share #WhatsYourGood with us!

Do Good. Eat Granola.

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