An Update Message from My Virtual Office

Our first priority is always to support the health and safety of Friends' staff, volunteers, and our many supporters. 
With this in mind, we made the decision to postpone our Chicago River Summit and Game Night, a fundraising event organized by Friends' Tributary Committee. All volunteer events for March and April have been cancelled as well as Chicago River School Network field trips and in-class presentations. Friends' staff is now performing their essential work remotely.

Staff and I are constantly evaluating the situation, in the hopes that we can return to the office soon, our volunteers can once again support our mission, and schoolchildren can discover the wonders of wildlife that call the river home through our field trips. Please continue to check our website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for the most up-to-date information. We are planning to reschedule our Chicago River Summit and the Tributary Committee's Game Night later in the year. We just need the "all-safe" announcement from our local, state, and federal leaders to help us plan accordingly. In the interim, we are holding on tight like so many of you.

From our kitchen tables, Friends' staff is currently working on many critical projects and programs. These can range from managing large scale community-wide events such as the 28th annual Chicago River Day (May 9), to launching a new pilot project that places Seabins into the river to collect trash as part of our Litter Free Chicago River campaign, to virtually working alongside government and civic leaders in an effort to improve stormwater management by introducing nature-based approaches into our ever evolving blue-green corridor and across the watershed.

Our fiscal year ends on June 30. This date seems so far away today, but I know from experience how quickly it arrives. Between now and the end of June, in addition to opening the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum in May and putting our first canoe into the water as part of our public and private trips that we offer, Friends organizes three signature events which bring in most of our revenue for the entire year: Chicago River Day, Big Fish Ball, and the Summer Cruise, a benefit for the museum. If one or more of these events are postponed, new strategic decisions will need to be made.

During this time, I ask that if you had intended to give to Friends of the Chicago River--if you planned to volunteer, to visit the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, or to donate--that you show your support, if it's within your capacity to do so, with a donation to help us improve and protect the Chicago River system for people, plants, and animals. If you'd like to financially support Friends, you can make a donation here. You will automatically become a member of Friends and join a diverse cohort of people who want to see a healthy and clean river now and for future generations. Businesses can join our Chicago River Business Alliance by making a donation here.

As a supporter and member of Friends family, you understand the power of community action. Please remember to follow recommended health and hygiene protocols and seek up-to-date information on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and health resources available to you and your family.

Thank you for your continued support during this time and for playing your part in slowing the spread of the virus and promoting the well-being of our entire community.

Stay safe and healthy,