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Chance the Rapper to bring coats to Chicago's homeless population ahead of winter cold.

Chicago winters can be deadly, but this local musician is trying to help.

Chance the Rapper to bring coats to Chicago's homeless population ahead of winter cold.

Chicago winters are awful.

And I say that as someone who has spent all 29 years of her life living in and around my dear Chicago city by the lake. Winters here aren't just "brrr, I'm feeling a little chilly," they're full on having to worry about losing a few digits if you leave your fingers exposed to the cold winter air for more than a few minutes.


In so many ways, you are the worst, Chicago. ... Why can't I quit you? Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

I can't even imagine how bad it must be to be homeless and have to endure sub-zero Chicago winter weather.

Sadly, many aren't able to endure the city's fatal freeze. And with an estimated 125,000 homeless Chicagoans gearing up to take on the winter, they could really use some help now more than ever.

A 2011 snowstorm shut down Lake Shore Drive, one of the city's busiest streets, leaving it looking like a scene out of "The Walking Dead." It gets so cold and snow can get so high that cars stop running, engines don't work. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

And that's where Chicago-born artist Chance the Rapper comes in.

"They say I'm saving my city, say I'm staying for good / They screaming Chano for mayor, I'm thinking maybe I should," Chance raps in "Somewhere in Paradise," one of two songs he premiered on the "Saturday Night Live" stage last week.

His history-making performance — he was the first independent artist to appear as a musical guest on "SNL" — got rave reviews, but it's those lyrics and how he's living up to them that's making news today.


Here's Chance performing at the 2014 Made in America Festival. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch.

So how is he "saving his city"?

On Dec. 16, 2015, Chance launched Warmest Winter 2016, a fundraising effort to help raise money to get coats to Chicago's homeless population.


His goal is to raise $100,000 — enough money to manufacture 1,000 EMPWR coats from The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit nonprofit.

The coats are self-heating jackets made from upcycled auto insulation, Carhartt fabric, and donor-provided materials. They can be turned into a sleeping bag and transform into an over-the-shoulder bag for carrying items.


Here's a bit from the EMPWR website (emphasis added):

"The Empowerment Plan can produce 1,000 coats on a budget of $100,000. Our studies show that for each 1,000 coats distributed, we can save 14 lives and reduce healthcare costs by $58,800 annually. Also, each recipient of an EMPWR Coat will make at least one less emergency room visit per year due to hypothermia. Assuming an average cost of $4,200 per visit, we estimate reduced healthcare costs of $58,800 for every 1,000 coats we distribute. Each year approximately 7% of homeless individuals die from hypothermia. Our coat reduces this statistic by over 20%."

Pretty cool, right?

It's not the first — and almost certainly won't be the last — time Chance will do something great for people in need.

Earlier this year, he helped find jobs for 500 people on Chicago's south side. And just months before that, he surprised a group of kids with a trip to the Field Museum.


And here he is at Coachella 2014. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella.

In 2014, he used his influence on social media to effectively call for a citywide ceasefire over Memorial Day weekend. And for 42 peaceful hours, not a single person in the city was shot.


Now, of course, that's not to say Chance is without his flaws or controversies. Some have argued that lyrics on some of his older songs are misogynistic and homophobic.

That said, the work he's doing off the mic is saving and enriching the lives of others, and that's worth a whole lot.

So, if you're looking for a cause to donate to — one that will literally save lives — consider Chance's Warmest Winter.

There'll be a lot of chilly Chicagoans ready to thank you.

The temperature on the day this picture was taken? Minus-16 degrees. Yikes! Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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