New Friends! Michelle, Susan & Mike

Every few months we’ll introduce you to some of the people whose efforts are at the heart of the Friendship Center’s work and community engagement.

Photo of Friendship Center board member and volunteer Michelle Cahoon
Michelle Cahoon

Michelle Cahoon has been a volunteer at the Friendship Center since July 2019 after spending 30+ years in the financial services industry as the CFO of an investment management firm and a certified public accountant.

She has been a long-time financial supporter of the Greater Chicago Food Depository due to her strong belief that no one should go hungry and becoming a regular volunteer at the pantry was a top goal after her retirement.

Michelle joined the board in April 2021 and brings both her hands-on knowledge from volunteering as well as her financial skills to that role. Michelle enjoys food, wine and travel and has been an avid Blackhawks fan since before their recent Stanley Cup wins.

Photo of Friendship Center board member and volunteer Susan Casey
Susan Casey

Susan Casey joined the Friendship Center board in April 2021 and helps with Saturday food deliveries to seniors. She has lived in the North Park community with her family for over 20 years, where she’s enjoyed volunteer leadership roles in the local community association and a local school.

As a program manager for the environmental nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead, Susan helps K-12 schools reduce waste. She was a middle school science teacher prior to that. Susan looks forward to contributing her nonprofit, education, and community-building experience to the work and mission of the Friendship Center.

If you recently saw the Friendship Center in the Chicago Tribune, FOX-32, or WTTW, then you were looking at the handiwork of our PR guru/volunteer Mike Roach (pictured above, holding the Trib op-ed by Friendship Center volunteer Jaime Freedman). After 20+ years making news for national brands including Budweiser, Harley-Davidson, KFC, and Snickers, Mike launched his own agency to help entrepreneurs, nonprofits and small businesses elevate their storytelling.

Mike loves visiting farmers markets with his wife, Katie, and daughter, Ella. In fact, it was at the Ravenswood Farmers Market where he first found out about our food pantry and got involved. We became his first pro bono client! You can follow Mike’s travels to markets around the world via his Instagram feed @AtTheFarmersMarket.

“There are so many unsung pantry volunteers doing such amazing things, it’s humbling to be able to help tell their story,” Mike said. “I just hope this media attention inspires other professionals in the neighborhood — be they accountants, plumbers, painters or social media gurus — to join me in donating some of their time and talent to support this important work.”

New Pantry Friends on the Southside

Friendship Center volunteer Bonnie Tawse (above, with her friend Elizabeth) got involved with the Free Street Theater because of her son, Sam, and when the pandemic hit, they launched a pop-up pantry (or, as they call it, an “alt-pantry”) at the Storyfront Theater location in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

They are working hard to reach underserved communities in their area with an innovative approach and a lot of grassroots energy, but they don’t have the same access to bulk food resources as we do.

Because of our committed network of supporters, sometimes we actually have a surplus of certain grocery items. When this happens, we “resource-share” with neighboring food pantries to make sure nothing goes to waste. In this case, we were able to send items to a part of the city that really needed the help, and support them as they build and grow their own much-needed food pantry.