Like most people, Frank Slove looks forward to payday.
Except this Buffalo Grove resident’s payday doesn’t come in the form of money. Instead, he uses the term to describe the feeling he gets when he knows he’s made a positive difference in someone else’s life.
Slove is the founder of American Aid Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide assistance to those in need. Those on the receiving end might include homeless people, disaster victims or children, among others.
“A lot of the clubs and stuff … they are fine organizations, but you’re fundraising most of the time, going to meetings, writing checks, but not being there for the end result,” he said.
His foundation, he said, gives volunteers the chance to interact with the people they are helping.
“We try to create programs to fill in the cracks,” he said.
Those programs include movie nights for children who live at Maryville Academy and efforts to get the homeless off the streets.
Slove, 51, said he’s been involved with philanthropic efforts for most of his life. He recalls going with his parents to visit a VA hospital as part of an AMVETS project when he was a teenager.
He still remembers “the smiles on their faces” and hearing the veterans talk.
“Even at that age, I could see we were making a difference,” he said.
Later, he was involved with suburban Lions clubs.
After Hurricane Katrina, Slove co-founded the United Relief Foundation, which aims to help people in need. Slove later parted ways with that organization and launched in 2009 the American Aid Foundation. He closed his computer business to focus on the organization.
“I’ve dedicated myself to this full time,” he said.
The foundation, which is run by Slove and five other board members, including his mother, Peggy, is committed to keeping operational expenses as low as possible, Slove said. The organization is headquartered at his Buffalo Grove home.
“There’s no reason for us to take donors’ money and spend it on a nice office for us,” he said. “At this point, we can operate more efficiently and diligently with donors’ funds by using the least amount we can.”
The foundation raises money with regular garage sales held at the Prairie View home of board member Carmen Gonzalez. Community members donate items for the sales, which have featured such goods as electronics, grills, clothing and home décor.
The garage sales run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on many Saturdays at 20666 North Margaret Avenue. Gonzalez, the foundation's treasurer, estimated that the organization raised $2,000 between May and December.
The funds allow the foundation to purchase movies and food for its monthly movie nights at Maryville Academy, as well as cover mileage expenses incurred by deliveries to homeless shelters, she said. A local bakery donates pastries to the foundation, for example, and volunteers transport the items to PADS sites.
Gonzalez, who works as an administrative assistant at Maryville, met Slove five years ago while he was volunteering there. Gonzalez soon began helping at the foundation’s movie nights. In addition to providing a movie, the volunteers provide refreshments and celebrate the young residents’ birthdays.
“You feel in your heart what you’re doing for these people,” she said.
“I see these people … they have nothing,” she said. “No friends, no family.”
“We give them a cake for their birthday and they start crying.”
The American Aid Foundation is working to expand its movie program to a mobile theater program that will benefit hospital patients and retired veterans. The idea, Slove explained, is to “bring it to people who are not able to go to the theater.”
In a separate effort, volunteers work with other agencies to help homeless citizens find shelter.
“And then we help them in terms of finding a permanent home and job and so forth,” Slove said. “Homelessness in general is just something we’d like to eradicate.”
The foundation is working to raise awareness of its efforts and secure funding. Slove said he hopes it will receive corporate grants. At the grassroots level, the weekly garage sales will continue, too. Sales are expected to resume in February, weather permitting.
Slove said his goal is to expand the foundation to a national level.
“If everyone gave just one hour a month to help people in need, there wouldn’t be people in need anymore,” he said.
For more information about American Aid Foundation or to donate items for an upcoming garage sale, visit its website or call Slove at (847) 363-1332.