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Notes from Our First In-Person Gathering


Open Communities Staff at Staff Retreat 2021

Open Communities has always been a small and mighty team. Historically, the team is small, no larger than 6 or 8 folks. Over the last 18 months, Open Communities has grown to over 13 people and broke the $1 Million budget for the first time ever. This number reflects the overwhelming demand for our services as we work tirelessly to ensure people stay housed during the worst health crisis of the modern-day.

Open Communities staff retreat 2021. Three people talking in a circle.

On July 1, our team gathered together IN PERSON in my backyard on a perfect summer day. This was the first time since March 13 that I have looked into the eyes of the team that has moved mountains through COVID. Because they were hired during the pandemic, more than half of the group met each other in person for the first time.


I learned a lot about everyone on the team and I look forward to engaging more with them. -Valentino

We are so far from the clear from COVID, but for one day, the 12 of us sat in small groups on my lawn and got to know the actual humans. We took time to celebrate our survival. This team showed up, every single day, ready to do what it took to stabilize our communities. I am so grateful to be a part of something so good that has changed actual lives.


The staff retreat really excelled in building bonds and getting to know our coworkers. The retreat took 11 strangers who work together and helped start the group on the path of becoming a true team. Not only did we talk about our personal wants and fears, but we also acknowledged the issues that face the organization as a whole and set forth a plan on how to address them. I walked away from the retreat with a smile on my face. - Chris Riehlmann

We are looking forward to the next phase of this pandemic recovery. We are staying alert, watching for signs that we need to pivot, change course or do more. We have returned to our co-working space at CoLab in Evanston in a hybrid fashion. All staff are together two days a week and out in the community the other three days. We are ready to respond to a fully remote workplace if safety requires that. We are prepared to respond to the lifting of the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums.

Open Communities staff retreat 2021. Four people talking in a circle.

If we could share one thing, just one, it is this.


Call us, text us, email us THE MINUTE you think you may be in trouble with your housing.

Before you miss the rent payment.

Before you stop paying your mortgage.

There is no judgment.

No shame.


We want to help and have the tools to help. Together, we can weather this storm.

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