FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHICAGO, September 26, 2018 – Mercy Housing Lakefront today presented the 2018 Spirit of Mercy Award to Howard Natinsky, whose philanthropic efforts have resulted in concrete, measurable improvement in the lives of hundreds of Chicagoans. The award, which is presented annually at Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Moving Forward Together celebration, recognizes lifetime achievements in creating a more humane world, and is named in honor of the Sisters of Mercy, who founded Mercy Housing in Omaha, Nebraska in 1981.
For nearly 30 years, Mr. Natinsky has contributed to the cultural fabric of the City of Chicago through his work as an entrepreneur in Chicago’s real estate, dining and nightlife industries. After opening Fat Cat Bar in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood in 2007, Mr. Natinsky became aware of Mercy Housing Lakefront’s mission to provide service-enriched affordable housing in the neighborhood, ultimately joining the organization’s Board of Directors in 2011 with the goal of building bridges between residents and members of the community.
In the years since, Mr. Natinsky has done exactly that through activities like the “Uptown Initiative,” a series of community dinners hosted at Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Uptown properties, with food prepared and served by Mr. Natinsky and his employees at Fat Cat. In addition, Mr. Natinsky has organized several successful fundraising drives for the organization at Fat Cat, donating a portion of drink sales to the organization to expand the service offerings available to residents.
These efforts have had a meaningful impact on residents’ lives, making possible a sewing studio at the Harold Washington Apartments and a flourishing art therapy program that allows residents to creatively express themselves and regain a sense of identity after experiencing traumatic life events like homelessness. Most recently, Mr. Natinsky has turned his attention to launching a pilot program for MHL residents that focuses on nutrition education to help residents live healthier lives and achieve their full potential.
“Howard has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those we serve, leaning on his experience as an entrepreneur to identify, launch, and scale vital programs for residents, like art therapy, that would not have been possible without his support,” said Mark Angelini, President of Mercy Housing Lakefront. “Because Howard willed the art therapy program into existence and nurtured its growth, it is now demonstrating significant impact that is attracting additional funders. As Howard turns his attention to a new program that supports healthy shopping and eating habits among permanent supportive housing residents, we look forward to continuing to work with him to give our residents the opportunity to live in hope.”
About Mercy Housing Lakefront
Mercy Housing Lakefront (MHL) is working to build a region where everyone has an affordable home to use as a springboard to achieve better health, economic security, and a brighter future for their kids. MHL owns and operates 52 properties in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, serving more than 8,000 people annually. MHL is a regional branch of Mercy Housing, Inc. (MHI), a leading national affordable housing nonprofit headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Please find additional information at www.mercyhousinglakefront.org.