CHICAGO — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and riots following the killing of George Floyd, two Chicago women decided to team up to give back to struggling business owners.
On May 30, Shavonne Sahara, owner of Smart Move Furniture on the South Side, lost much of what comprised her business.
“It was scary. You could see the furniture they were taking out,” Sahara said.
Sahara owns Smart Move Furniture along with her husband, who also operate a non-profit organization on the South Side to help local children stay out of gangs. In dire need of help, fellow Chicagoans returned the call for assistance.
Candice Payne is not new to good deeds for fellow Chicagoans, as she garnered attention in 2019 for helping 100 homeless individuals get off the street and into hotel rooms during the polar vortex.
Following the riots, Payne teamed up with fellow realtor Arsiak Vartenian to help local businesses struggling to stay afloat, many of which were already struggling due to the pandemic’s impact.
Payne called Vartenian to buy furniture for Sahara’s business, which turned into surprising Sahara with a fresh start.
“That kind of spiraled from that deed. Us buying property, furnish them, and surprise them,” Payne said.
Vartenian and Payne collaborated to raise $10,500 on GoFundMe for seven different businesses. Many were just trying to pay their rent and allow their insurance policies to lapse.
“It’s been an honor and inspiring to see how Chicago does come together. There is a lot of good in this city,” Vartenian said.
Shavonne Sahara received $3,000 in donations, and sees hope for the future in a turbulent year.
“It’s been really sad trying to rebuild in your own community. The small token they gave us will go a very long way,” Payne said.
If you would like to make a donation, visit their GoFundMe page here.