Why two Naperville nonprofits are joining forces

Two well-known Naperville nonprofit groups that help people withstand tough times are soon to be one.

Effective July 1, Naperville CARES is combining with Loaves & Fishes Community Services. The merged organization's main programs will provide food, cars and emergency financial assistance to people in need.

"Naperville CARES got very good at homelessness prevention services. Loaves & Fishes got very good at providing food," said Janet Derrick, executive director of Naperville CARES, which helps about 460 families a year with money to pay bills and 40 with cars. "This is a great way of combining two very strong agencies."

The move aims to consolidate locations to save on overhead and run more efficiently. Naperville CARES spent $445,785 on programs in 2014, which is 84 percent of its total spending of $533,950. But the larger Loaves & Fishes dedicated 97 percent of its total spending of $14.1 million to programs in the same year.

Still, the main goal of the merger is to make things easier for people who are struggling to meet basic needs.

"The bottom line is it's good for our clients, which is good for our community," said Mike Havala, interim CEO and board president of Loaves & Fishes.

Loaves & Fishes, established in 1991, and Naperville CARES, established in 1999, already refer clients to each other. So with a merged charity, there will be less application paperwork, less wait time and only one location to visit.

The move comes two years after Loaves & Fishes changed the end of its name from "Community Pantry" to "Community Services."

"In addition to everything we do on food side, we want to do things that help with self-sufficiency of our clients," Havala said.

Loaves offers classes on diabetes prevention and money management, help applying for public benefits and preparing income tax returns, job search assistance through the Community Career Center, English classes through College of DuPage, computer classes through People's Resource Center, veterans help through the Veterans Assistance Commission of DuPage County and emotional support through Samaritan Interfaith Counseling.

Now these nonfood programs, along with car and financial assistance, will be called Loaves & Fishes CARES programs and run by Derrick as vice president.

As of Friday, Derrick and the two other employees of Naperville CARES will become employees of Loaves & Fishes, joining 19 workers already on the larger organization's payroll. CARES will move out of its office at 618 5th Ave. Suite B and into Loaves' grocery market and service center at 1871 High Grove Lane within the next month or so.

Grant for Naperville CARES

'Day Without Hunger' to shine light on local food insecurity

  Loaves & Fishes Community Services in Naperville offers a grocery market for people in need of food and several other services to help them with jobs, public benefits, health, computer skills, language skills and emotional stability. Paul Michna/ April 2015
  Loaves & Fishes Community Services is taking on the services provided by Naperville CARES as the two nonprofit organizations merge July 1. Marie Wilson/
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