Our Gratitude for You

We are grateful for all our volunteers and supporters who are helping to improve and protect the Chicago River system.

Friends has plenty to be thankful for this year, even during difficult times. The river is healthier and filled with more native wildlife than it has been in over 100 years. Everyone from elected officials to teachers to private businesses has had a role to play in this transformation, and during this season of thankfulness, we want to express our gratitude especially to you.

As a volunteer, you came out ready to work after being stuck inside since spring 2020. Over 2,000 people participated in Chicago River Day and the My Chicago River Summer Challenge this year, working at 74 sites along the river and countless neighborhoods and parks to keep trash from degrading our ecosystem. Dozens more took to the river in canoes to make a direct impact in the river, whether by installing native plant species or removing trash. And, you came together with elected officials, families, and friends and got wet at the inaugural Summer Float Party to celebrate progress and still build awareness that the river was designated swimmable a decade ago and more needs to be done to make it safe.

As a concerned environmental advocate, you made the personal decisions necessary for a healthy river system. You declined single use plastics such as to-go cups and flatware from carryout orders. You limited the use of snow melting chemicals so fewer chlorides would enter the river. During Overflow Action Days you made the tough choice before, during, and after rainstorms to delay taking a shower or doing laundry so our combined sewer systems would not be overloaded and force sewage into the river.

These individual choices all combine for a powerful collective impact, bolstering our resiliency against the climate crisis.

As a donor, you provided Friends with the investments necessary to make our community engagement and outreach possible. Because of your support, Friends can provide science and nature programs such as the Chicago River Schools Network (currently celebrating its 25th anniversary) at no charge to K-12 schools in our watershed. And you supported provocative community education at our McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. Not to mention other programs such as Inside, Out & About, wildlife habitat restoration, collaboration with peer organizations on regional stormwater management, and all the other hard work our staff accomplishes every day.

Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it. We wish you a warm, safe, and wonderful Thanksgiving.