issue Fall 2020

Foundation Gift Delivers “Peace of Mind” in Community

Physician assistant Twinkle Patel, PA-C, gets ready to give a COVID test to a LEARN 6 student.
Photo by Michael R. Schmidt

When A Safe Place needed to move clients affected by domestic violence back into emergency sheltering from hotels where they stayed for precautionary reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic, they asked Rosalind Franklin University to provide COVID testing.

“We received an immediate yes,” said Carlos Argueta, chief of staff at the Lake County-based agency, which assists victims of domestic violence and their families.

Staff members at A Safe Place also needed to get back into their office setting when any of them were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and the university’s rapid testing allowed employees to return quickly and safely.

“For us as an agency that provides emergency services among many other nonemergency services, it was vital to get rapid results because we didn’t close — we just adjusted the way that we provided services in certain programs,”Mr. Argueta said. “A Safe Place thanks Rosalind Franklin University and (then-Director of Community Health Engagement) Michael Smith for seeing this need, and providing immediate assistance.”

A partnership between the Chicago-based Steans Family Foundation and RFU allowed for a subsidy covering hundreds of tests that were administered around Lake County this summer.

The effort is in line with a mission shared by the foundation and the university to address essential needs in underserved communities.

In the spring, Evan Westerfield, managing director for the Steans Family Foundation, expressed a desire to expand the foundation’s support of RFU’s community impact initiatives related to its funding priorities of workforce development and education in North Chicago, according to RFU’s Office of Institutional Advancement.

The move provided the university with $25,000 to apply toward community-impact efforts, such as quickly COVID testing 200 staff members at North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 before the new school year began.

“We wanted everyone to have peace of mind,” District 187 Chief Academic Officer Yesenia Sanchez said.

District 187 Superintendent John Price hailed the university's testing program as “a fantastic resource,” adding that “in less than 24 hours, I got my test results. The nose swab took less than 10 minutes.”

In mid-September, the Steans Family Foundation Board of Trustees moved forward in its partnership with RFU by approving a $35,000 grant to RFU to cover COVID testing for Cristo Rey St. Martin in Waukegan and LEARN charter schools in Lake County.