Participant Profile: Christopher

The pandemic has been hard for all of us. But you know what? I’m doing better than some of my friends and family. That’s what keeps me going. I have a responsibility to my family and my community.” 


The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot is meant to be a support that allows our neighbors to take the reins of their own economic recovery, because we know they have the strength – the resilience – to achieve success.  

For Christopher, a serial entrepreneur and service-leader, the last few years have been defined by his resilience.  

Christopher built his first business in his twenties, using his skills as photographer to make close connections with businesses and clubs. He was a great artist, but it was his entrepreneurial and financial skills that caught the attention of his clients. Christopher subsequently started a tax preparation business called MaxTax Professionals, and eventually branched out into financial coaching. 

In that work, Christopher realized the profound impact he could have on his community.  

“I know there’s a strong link between poverty and violence. I’ve always thought that if I can help people with education and credit, I can help people out of poverty. I’m helping people live longer.” 

He built a clientele, hired staff, and set up a brick-and-mortar office in his childhood neighborhood of Auburn Gresham. Christopher’s businesses, and his clients, were growing and thriving – until early 2020 when the pandemic hit. The ensuing economic downturn shrank both his coaching clientele, and business closures and lockdowns virtually eliminated his photography business.  

Christopher was making ends meet through his tax preparation business when in March of 2021. As he was leaving the office one night, a car drove past Christopher and fired seven shots. Christopher was hit three times, twice in the head, and lost his eyesight. 

His medical bills quickly piled up, and insurance coverage was spotty at best. Soon, it was hard to even pay for the necessities. Rent and food quickly became the biggest challenges.  


Everything has changed since then. I’m redefining my life, and how I live independently. Every day is a struggle. Sometimes I get frustrated through this transition, but I’m not going to allow my condition to be my conclusion.”


But Christopher is a survivor. With support from his family and a few service organizations, he has maintained independence in his Lincoln Park apartment and is working steadily on the healing process. Christopher got back to work at his tax prep and financial coaching business, where one of his clients told him of the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot. 

“I’ve been burned before. I use a screen reader to read on my phone, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing on the website. But it was all for real. When I got my first check, I can’t tell you how elated I was.” 

That first check was deposited the day before rent was due, and it was the first time he was able to make rent on time in a while. These last few months, Christopher has been able to shift his focus from daily necessities toward rebuilding and creating a new life.  

“Overall, it’s just a relief to know that such a large part of my savings isn’t dropping right now. One step further away from bankrupt, one step closer to success.” 

Christopher is preparing his tax business for the coming spring, and he’s confident that his team will be ready to help his community. The added relief from an extra $500 a month has boosted his own resilience and ability to recover on his own terms. 


I work with a lot of people who are struggling, but there’s a beauty in the struggle that we face. People fighting to make a better life is something to admire. 


Christopher smiles as he stands out on his building’s outdoor space, with the city sprawling behind him.