I write this message with the heaviest of hearts. My beautiful mother – Marja-Liisa Lennhoff Eskelinen – died on Saturday evening, the 4th of July.
My family is all down in TX, and it is heartbreak on top of sorrow that I was not able to be with my mom when she died. The coronavirus pandemic has made travel complicated, treacherous, and at times, impossible. So many families around our nation, and the world, are going through the same thing – grieving at a distance, and unable to bask in the light of love that is sometimes possible and necessary at the end of life.
I want to tell y’all a little bit about my mom, and about her love for CCHCC and the work that we do. This is not an obituary for my mom, but a bit of a celebration of a beautiful life, and how that life contributed to the beautiful organization that we all have built – CCHCC.
Marja-Liisa Lennhoff Eskelinen My mom was a World War II baby, born on May 31, 1939 in Finland. Her father was a scout on horseback for the Finnish military, which was fighting Russia at that time. My mom’s father was killed when my mom was 2 years old. From then on, my mom had a very hard life – poverty, abuse when sent to live with another family, various illnesses including encephalitis, and more. But she was tough and resilient. She was a survivor.
Eventually, my mom was able to travel to the United States, the ward of a Finnish lady who was a domestic servant for a rich family in White Plains, NY. That Finnish lady is who I knew as my grandmother (she adopted the name “Mary Lake” to try to seem more American) when I was growing up. My mom arrived in the U.S. at the age of 15. She entered nursing school and worked as a domestic servant with her foster mom. Eventually, my mom became a nurse and worked at the White Plains, NY hospital, where she met my dad, Miguel Lennhoff. I treasure my mom’s gold pin that she received upon becoming a nurse.
My dad was doing his medical residency in White Plains, NY, where he arrived from Mexico. He grew up in Mexico after his mom fled Austrian Nazis. That’s a whole other story that I won’t get into now.
My parents fell in love and got married, and then had to move to Mexico so that my dad could finish his medical school. Both of my parents spoke English as a second or third language. That was the language they had in common. But then, of course, my mom had to learn Spanish when they moved to Mexico. And she did.
My parents had three children while in Mexico. I am the middle daughter in between two brothers.
The novel corona virus pandemic has upended everything – everyone is trying to adjust to a “new normal.” Like everyone else, Champaign County Health Care Consumers has also had to find ways to adjust, while continuing to serve our community, and rising to the challenge of helping to meet an increasing demand for our services – more people need us now, and their needs are more complicated and challenging. Your support makes it possible for us to rise to the challenge of this moment, and to improve the lives of our community members.
No Annual Awards Dinner to celebrate our 43rd year. In the interest of everyone’s health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, Champaign County Health Care Consumers has canceled our 2020 Annual Awards Dinner, which would have been held in May of this year. This year’s Annual Dinner would have marked our 43rd year, and would have been an important social and fundraising event for our organization. We very much miss the camaraderie and joy of being able to gather with our friends and supporters at our annual celebration.
Although we cannot gather for our annual celebration, CCHCC staff are still working very hard every day to serve our community during the coronavirus pandemic. We have had an increase in the number of clients we are serving as a result of community members losing employment and income, and needing extra resources during our state’s Shelter-in-Place order. And, clients turning to us are also in greater distress and have more complicated situations and require greater support from CCHCC’s staff – our Community Health Workers. More community members are turning to us for help in accessing public benefits for the first time in their lives, unaccustomed to navigating the public benefits systems.
Fortunately, CCHCC is a dedicated, dynamic, and nimble organization with highly skilled and experienced staff.
If you have lost work, you can apply for Unemployment benefits in Illinois. If your job loss is due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive additional unemployment benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
If you need to apply for Unemployment benefits, and/or if you’ve tried to applied but have had problems with the online portal, please read through this entire message to find information about how to apply online, or by phone, and when to apply – there is a filing schedule based on the first letter of your last name. To see the filing schedule, please see the bottom of this message.
Rental Assistance and Unemployment Many of the rental assistance programs available right now require proof to show that you have filed for Unemployment benefits. Whether or not you receive those benefits, having proof that you have filed for Unemployment can help you apply for rental assistance. For Rental Assistance programs in Champaign County, please visit here.
Applying for Illinois Unemployment During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has set up a process to help individuals gain unemployment benefits, should they experience loss of employment due to the pandemic.
If you visit the home page of IDES you will find several links. However, if you scroll down to the News and Announcements section, you can see updates from IDES. The IDES shared an announcement on May 6, 2020, that can help you understand how to apply for unemployment. Here is the link for the information.
IL Will Cover Low-Income Uninsured Seniors Regardless of Immigration Status
*Este mensaje se repetirá en español a continuación*
Thanks to your advocacy efforts last week, we have an Illinois victory to celebrate!
Illinois will be the first state in the nation to offer comprehensive health insurance coverage to low-income undocumented seniors!
This is an important first step toward achieving universal health coverage in the State of Illinois for all Illinois residents, including all immigrants. Not only will this help the particular individuals who will gain coverage, but it will also help ensure greater public health protections for all communities, as more people gain coverage and can seek timely healthcare without fear of unaffordable medical debt.
Support expansion of IL Medicaid to cover all seniors age 60+
May 21, 2020
*Este mensaje se repetirá en español a continuación*
Champaign County Health Care Consumers is joining with Healthy Illinois to call on IL Governor JB Pritzker to support HB 4891 / SB 3703 – Healthy Illinois for All.
This bill creates a pathway to health coverage through the Medicaid program for all low-income seniors in IL, including undocumented immigrants. This expansion of coverage is critical for keeping all communities healthy in the face of COVID-19. (For more information on HB 4891 / SB 3703, please see further down in this message, after the Take Action section.)
Please take action TODAY by calling the Governor’s Office, and/or signing on to support this legislation: