Alex’s Mission

February 2022 View more

Back in March 2020 when the pandemic shut everything down, many of the area’s homeless had nowhere to go for food. Several Downers Grove residents knew people were living in the downtown parking deck and began dropping off meals. At times, so some much food was left that it had to be thrown away. A group of women noticed this and decided to take action. With nothing more than a SignUp Genius account and a desire to help, the women took to social media and launched a coordinated effort to feed fellow community members in need. What started out as kind gesture quickly grew into a ministry. Now called Alex’s Mission—named after a man who died during the group’s first weeks of service—the Downers Grove-based nonprofit has been organizing meals for those in need for nearly two years. 

As more volunteers joined the effort, the group began serving out of the downtown train station. Word of the program spread throughout the homeless community and people began taking the train in from nearby cities for food. When businesses began reopening and the group needed to find a different location, the First Congregational United Church of Christ offered its parking lot. In November 2020, the church purchased the building next door and let the group move into the space, now called the Downers Grove Community Kitchen.

Each month more than 200 volunteers provide and serve breakfast and dinner to those in need. 

“We typically serve over 800 meals a month,” explains volunteer Galinda Tunney. “A lot of our guests are repeats. Some just show up occasionally. But we make sure we know each one of them by name.”

Whether guests are regulars or just passing through, they receive much more than a warm meal. Tunney fondly recalls one conversation she had with a guest who pointed out that a lot of them hadn’t seen their families or received a hug in a long time. “He told me that when we come in with a casserole and serve it to them, it’s like we’re giving them a hug from home. It was such a sweet moment. I still get emotional thinking about it,” she says.

In addition to meals, Alex’s Mission also collects and distributes donated toiletries, coats, clothes, and blankets. Recently, it received a grant from the Grove Foundation, which was used to purchase sleeping bags and fanny packs. “It’s just an incredible thing. My whole life I wanted to do a mission trip. I really thought I was going to have to go to Africa or China to do it. And here it is literally in my backyard,” Tunney says.

Volunteers and organizations can email if interested in helping. For more information, visit

Photo by Karen Laio