Alumnus helps Chicago's homeless people through his nonprofit
Neal Karski (BBA '12) found his life purpose through a combination of influences, including his mother’s encouragement to help others without judgement, values gathered from his Loyola experience, and his successful fight with thyroid cancer.
He also filmed the documentary "Street Life: Faces Uncovered," which helped him understand homeless.
Together, these influences formed what motivates him today: a desire to help others and build relationships.
Today, Karski is the executive director and founder of Street Samaritans, a nonprofit dedicated to providing homeless people with living essentials and human connection, as well as educating the public. He is also a successful independent management consultant and partner of Theydo, a digital design start-up.
Street Samaritans addresses homelessness in several ways, beginning with organizing volunteers to collect and distribute care packages of essential items, including food, clothing, and toiletries. The organization also partners with nonprofits and businesses to extend its reach and more effectively address homelessness in Chicago.
Pursuing his purpose
Karski began by distributing food and offering fellowship during his lunchbreak to people experiencing homeless. In 2017, he created a pilot for a care package drive and street outreach. With the help of Melanie Fernando, a fellow Loyola graduate, the organization was born.
Rapid growth and impact
Within two years, Street Samaritans has grown into an organization with a budget of $100,000, helped more than 3,000 people, distributed about 50,000 items, and engaged more than 1,000 volunteers.
The organization also has partnered with more than 10 community organizations and companies, including Nike Chicago and Apple Chicago. Street Samaritans has accomplished all of this without any paid staff.
Advice for Quinlan students
Karski continues to be involved at Quinlan, including serving as a mentor through the Q Mentorship program and frequently speaking on career panels.
“Students should take advantage of the mentorship program, as it’s a great way to get real life experience and make a great connection,” he says. “It’s tough to get out of school and start something right away. Go into something that you are interested in and build that knowledge and experience. Learn, absorb, and duplicate genius!”