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Stories of Hope: Coronavirus Response


March 18, 2020

As we continue to navigate unprecedented times, we can still find reasons for hope. We’ve gathered stories of people from every corner of the globe who are taking care of their communities, from providing resources to finding vaccine appointments. Our team will continue to add to this steady stream of global hope, but we'd like your help. Tell us about the stories—big and small—that are still lifting your spirits  here. Opens in a new tab

This 13-Year-Old’s Website Is Helping People Across Chicago Snag Vaccine Appointments

An Evanston teenager created a bilingual website to help Illinois residents book a vaccine appointment for themselves or their loved ones.  Read more on Block Club Chicago + Opens in a new tab

Dozens of cookies with the facemask emoji.

Are Vaccines Safe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases, before they come into contact with them.” If you or someone you know has questions about the efficacy and safety of vaccines, you can find more information  here Opens in a new tab .

More Than 1,000 People Line Up For Community-Led Vaccination Effort In Little Village: ‘A Very Important Moment’

The pop-up vaccinated 1,000 Little Village residents Sunday. It was held at a community location in hopes of eliminating barriers, organizers said.  Read more on Block Club Chicago + Opens in a new tab

In neighborhoods across Chicago, from Pilsen to Jackson Park to Austin, see how our neighbors are stepping up to care for their communities and giving them strength to weather the public health crisis.

Yo-Yo Ma gives surprise performance after receiving COVID-19 vaccine

A few Massachusetts residents who received a COVID-19 vaccination over the weekend also got a little extra with their shots — a mini-concert played by one of the world’s most famous cellists.  Read more from USA Today + Opens in a new tab

Watch President and Mrs. Obama read The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds for Chicago Public Library's "Live from the Library" series.

Dr. Kakenya sits for a portrait.

Obama Foundation Africa Leader Receives $725,000 in Funding for COVID-19 Relief

Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya founded Kakenya’s Dream to empower her rural Kenyan community by educating girls and ending harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. Her organization was recently awarded a $725,000 grant through Jack Dorsey’s Start Small initiative to fund their COVID-19 relief efforts and to build a youth-friendly health clinic in Enoosaen.  Learn more about Kakenya’s Dream + Opens in a new tab

After a stranger helped her dad score a vaccine, here's how she's paying it forward

“It doesn’t feel right that somebody has to be spending so much time and so much effort trying to get a vaccine. The people that I help, they don’t have the luxury to stay at home and look.” —Vivi Zayas,  CNN Opens in a new tab

When Jaton had to shift his after-school programming to be fully virtual, he reached out to Alfonso for help. Together, the leaders created AHA! Eskwelang Pamilya—a free and accessible online program featuring daily lessons and COVID-19 resources and information for students and their families. By joining forces with Alfonso, Jaton has doubled the number of children he now serves.

Chicagoan Ibraheem Alinur is the founder of City Health Tech, a startup focused on improving community health and preventing the spread of disease in communities. In response to COVID-19, Ibraheem has piloted his handwashing device at essential workplaces. The automated device triggers a series of animations that encourages better and longer handwashing times.

Community leaders from across Chicago got together virtually to share how they are supporting their neighbors during this challenging time. President Obama dropped in to say thank you.

President and Mrs. Obama dropped by a Chicago Public Schools Student Civics Town Hall where they discussed how the Chicago Public Schools community can stay connected, engaged in civic life, and build a sense of belonging even while living apart.

On National Teachers’ Day, President Obama called a few Chicago Public Schools teachers to thank them for their dedication and hard work keeping their students on track in a remote classroom environment.

Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo opens a new medical center in LA.

The Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center opened at an accelerated rate to treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles. The center is named in honor of donor Kevin Xu's late father, a surgeon and expert in regenerative medicine. When it opened on May 12, it became the latest free COVID-19 testing center in LA county.

“Know you’re doing the kind of work that makes communities stronger and makes the world a better place.” President Obama spoke with the Greater Chicago Food Depository's team to hear how they’ve stepped up during this crisis, and to thank them for it. If you're able,  you can donate here + Opens in a new tab

Watch President Obama discuss the importance of MBK Alliance's work across the United States.

Five-year-old Chicagoan Albie smiles to camera wearing a red hoodie.

Five-year-old Chicagoan Launches "Keep Away Corona" Podcast

Albie, a five-year-old Chicagoan who recently launched the Keep Away Corona podcast with some help from his dad. Albie talks to friends and family about the coronavirus and even sings the show’s theme song.  Listen to Albie’s podcast now + Opens in a new tab

President Obama joined 30 Obama Scholars from the University of Chicago and Columbia University for a conversation about how they are uniquely positioned to drive change in the world as it recovers from COVID-19.

A person's hands are shown as they wash them at a hand washing station that Kennedy Odede set up.

To flatten the curve, Obama Foundation Africa Leader Kennedy Odede and his organization, SHOFCO, installed over 30 hand washing stations throughout Kenya, in addition to distributing supplies and educational pamphlets.

Former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush applauded the courage of essential workers during the One World: Together At Home concert on April 18.

Asia-Pacific Leader Swietenia Puspa Lestari is the Executive Director of Divers Clean Action, a youth-led organization based in Indonesia that focuses on marine debris cleanup. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Divers Clean Action started researching the rise in waste and developing strategies to help combat it.

Goto Cooper speaks to community members sitting outside of their home.

Obama Foundation Africa Leader Goto Cooper collaborated with seven emerging community organizations across Liberia to create the COVID-19 Partnership Network. The network is educating rural communities about the symptoms of the virus and how to prevent its spread in coordination with the Liberian government and the World Health Organization’s efforts to curtail the outbreak.

Download Some Hope

One of our Obama Scholars, Pavel Kounchev, co-founded Fine Acts—a playground for social change. In response to the pandemic, they launched Spring of Hope online, where they are sharing new uplifting illustrations on their website every day until the end of May.  Download your own today + Opens in a new tab

Christian Vanizette is the co-founder of, an international organization based in France that focuses on how social entrepreneurs can use technology to solve social and environmental issues. When COVID-19 began to spread, he shifted the entire focus of his organization to virtual community organizing.

Kealoha Fox smiles to camera.

Obama Leader Addresses Inequalities Exacerbated by COVID-19 in Hawai‘i

Asia-Pacific Leader Kealoha Fox is working with the ACLU on their Campaign for Smart Justice, which is helping state offices ensure everyone’s health, safety and civil liberties are prioritized and protected during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also participated in a webinar where she spoke at length about about racial justice and health equity to address the over-incarceration of Native Hawaiians and Women in Hawai‘i.  Watch the webinar + Opens in a new tab

Around the world, Obama Foundation leaders are stepping up to meet this moment, helping their communities weather the COVID-19 crisis. In Malaysia, Obama Foundation, Leader Rashvin Pal Singh and his team are making face shields for frontline workers. In Paraguay, Obama Foundation Scholar, Gabriella Galilea is collaborating with others to create an open source app for self-reporting COVID-19 symptoms, and in Los Angeles, Obama Foundation Fellow, Harry Grammer and his organization, New Earth, are continuing to provide connectivity and basic necessities to community members who are in need.

A man smiles next to a large cart holding dozens of birthday boxes for children in need.

Together We Rise is a non-profit that's changing the way youth experience foster care. In response to the pandemic, the California-based organization is providing supplies, activities, and support to kids in foster care. Explore ways you can pitch in from home, including decorating duffle bags and building birthday boxes.

John Leong is the CEO of Kupu, an organization that provides hands-on environmental and sustainability service learning to youth in Hawai'i. When organizational events were cancelled as a result of COVID-19, John and his team repurposed some of the food to create meals for those most impacted by the crisis.

Children’s Story Book Released to Help Children and Young People Cope with COVID-19

A new story book that aims to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19 has been produced by a collaboration of more than 50 organizations working in the humanitarian sector… Read the full World Health Organization feature and download the book + Opens in a new tab

A red telephone booth is filled with books for people to take for free.

"At the Little Free Library organization, we are so proud of our neighbors, who have transformed their Little Free Libraries, sharing food, masks, supplies, and books to help their community during this crisis and entertaining their community with love and humor as well." —Anita M., Deal Island, MD

A laptop featuring Deborah's family is set up in front of their Shabbat meal.

"It is so touching for me to have my sheltered-in-place family making Shabbat together each week online. We speak about how to move through difficult times by aligning with love and community. Even the little kids are thinking how they can help." —Deborah A., Soquel, CA

"Thanks for helping the sick people. I know you're working hard and I miss you but I understand and I can't wait until the coronavirus is over and we can play more and ride bikes. I love you and I miss you."

"My husband is an infectious disease doctor, working tirelessly around the clock. My 6-year-old had an assignment for school to write a letter thanking a healthcare worker. She wanted to thank her dad and wrote the most heartfelt letter."—Katie M., Narberth, PA

Headshot of Christian Vanizette

Obama Scholar Shifts Entire Organization to Focus on Virtual Community Organizing

Current Obama Scholar Christian Vanizette runs in France. Since the pandemic began, he has shifted the entire focus of his organization to virtual community organization and the development of a new platform to share best practices around the COVID-19 response, particularly for healthcare professionals.  Explore his work + Opens in a new tab

A paper bag with a thank you note on it awaits the workers who clear Robin's garbage.

"It’s a small thing, but we left a care package of water, breakfast bars, and apples for the team that picks up our rubbish." —Robin P., Maui County, HI

Dora Anderson poses for a selfie with her mom.

"I am a 61-year old RN caring for my 96-year old mother while I telework full-time from home. This week alone, I've had two different neighbors I didn't know come by and ask if we needed any help or if they could pick up anything at the store for us. I could have cried at their kindness as no one had ever done that before in the 30 years I've lived here." —Dora A., Hermosa Beach, CA

A volunteer prepares care packages.

Local Chicago Organization Responds With Love in Time of Doubt

I Grow Chicago is doing what they do best at a time when it is most needed: Showing up for their neighbors, one meal, one call, one care package at a time. In just a few weeks, the organization has provided 150 hot meals to neighbors, picked up and delivered 50 children’s meals from Chicago Public Schools for their after school families that can’t drive, and delivered 250 educational flyers with information about the virus to households with limited Internet access.  Learn more about their work + Opens in a new tab

A chalk painting of a horse on a sidewalk.

"Like so many middle schoolers, 13-year-old Miah is spending hours every day online in school. On her breaks, she will draw, chat with friends and ride her bike. We have an elderly neighbor who walks daily around the block using his walker. To make his trip pleasant, she has been drawing chalk art on the sidewalk. Little bits of visual happiness for his daily walk." —Julien S., Salt Lake City, Utah

A group of four people wave to the camera as they walk in downtown Newark.

"Shout out to the small but mighty team at Franciscan Charities, who serve more than 100,000 hot meals and distribute plenty of food, hygiene products, diapers and wipes, toys, clothes, books and more each year in this needy pocket of downtown Newark, NJ." —Sharon M., Newark, NJ

A woman sews a mask for healthcare providers in her community.

"I am so proud of my wife, Jeannette Pomeroy, for sewing masks for a local assisted living facility. She sent them enough so that each staff member has two."—Bill U., Fishers, IN

I am a Social Worker. I am so proud of my fellow colleagues who are providing mental health services to all their clients even without the expectation of being paid. We refer to ourselves as the silent first responders. We are here.

Mary L., Chicago, IL

This is the Downtown Boxing Gym, normally packed with students, instead filled with boxes that contain meals, supplies and academic packets to be delivered to students and their families.

"The Downtown Boxing Gym is working around the clock to get emergency food, supplies, and academic materials to 150 Detroit students (ages 8-18) and their families. Many of these families were struggling with food insecurity before the COVID-19 crisis. Now, DBG has switched gears from helping students to helping entire families." —Robin S., Detroit, Michigan

Older people with light skin tones and warm undertones are smiling while having a conversation sournded by other people with several different skintones.

Obama Fellow Alex Smith Wants You to Call Your Neighbor

2018 Obama Fellow Alex Smith and his organization, The Cares Family, fight loneliness and polarization in the UK by connecting seniors and young professionals to build new and lasting relationships. Alex penned an op-ed chock-full of creative ways to combat loneliness and help your older neighbors during this trying time.  Check it out + Opens in a new tab

A White woman with short, dark hair and striped shirt sits at a table with a laptop. She is looking off in the distance.

Obama Fellow Builds Culture Through Screens

2018 Obama Fellow Erin Barnes is doing her part, too. At ioby, she and her team are implementing new ways to adjust to this new work reality, including a wide array of BBQ-related emojis and “bursty communications” on the messaging platform Slack.  See all of her fun tips here + Opens in a new tab

An array of some of the 7,000 colorful thank you cards Sherry Soon distributed.

Obama Foundation Asia-Pacific Leader Sherry Soon distributed 7,000 thank you notes and care packages for medical staff currently on the frontlines of the outbreak.

Jahmal Cole sits in front of a mountain of boxes with his volunteer staff behind them.

Chicago Organization My Block My Hood My City Provides Seniors with Coronavirus Prevention Supplies

CHICAGO — As stores struggle to keep enough hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on their shelves, a South Side advocacy group is working to get these items in the hands of Chicago seniors and people with disabilities to help them as coronavirus spreads.  Read the full article + Opens in a new tab

Take a closer look at the organization providing Coronavirus prevention supplies to seniors in Chicago.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet staff and volunteers prior to a Thanksgiving service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., Nov. 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Do Your Part

Many of you are already doing so much to keep your families, loved ones, and communities healthy, but if you're able, you can find ways to support others in need by donating to an organization near you.