The Vine is Moving Forward

by Hannah Whitted

The Vine is Moving Forward Amidst the Pandemic 

Jessica Quigley gives us an inside look into her life as director of The Vine, a program within New Life Centers. She shares her highs, lows, and everything in between as The Vine continues to push through the coronavirus pandemic.

"I have to tell myself that we just have to keep moving forward.”


Jessica delivers a craft to a student while staying safe and social distancing.

Jessica is the director of The Vine, the afterschool and summer education program based in Humboldt Park.

Back in 2011, Jessica never would’ve imagined what God had in store for her in the present. She is full of zeal and passion for children in need and gives everything she has to help them. Before becoming the director of the Vine, she was a full-time elementary school teacher. What started as summer volunteering eventually turned into so much more than she ever imagined. “I just fell in love with it. Like I came every day that summer and absolutely fell in love with the kids, with the programs, with the ministry here.”

Her volunteer position moved to a full-time position when the former site director took a sabbatical. Over the years, Jessica has seen God move in so many situations that once seemed impossible. Jessica’s light for Jesus shines bright each and every day. She is right where God wants her.

“And yet every day is so beautiful; and I love that God shows up in these real and tangible ways. And I don't want to be anywhere else.”

The Vine Moves to Zoom

Since the pandemic hit Chicago around March 2020, Jessica and her team have been working hard and adjusting to the change. At the beginning of it all, the instructors transitioned to Zoom tutoring, but it became draining really quickly. The excessive amount of Zoom meetings and online chats became “soul-sucking,” and exhausting. So, lately, they have been figuring out more creative ways to reach out the community and walk through life with the students and their families during this chaotic season of life.

The Vine is continuing to form connections with students and their families by delivering crafts, encouraging others who are isolated, volunteering at the New Life Centers food bank, and so much more.

Letters to Elderly

Letters sent to the elderly who are stuck in quarantine from the children at The Vine.

Diving Deeper into the Community

Throughout this time, it has been a challenge for Jessica, The Vine, and all of New Life Centers to carry on. COVID-19 has changed so much in our world, affecting the way we communicate and form relationships with one another. However, it has also given The Vine many opportunities to dive deeper into the lives of the community and support them. Developing deep, intentional relationships is more important now than ever before.

“We have to intentionally seek out connection; connection doesn't just happen anymore.” 

Jessica and her team are taking it one day at a time and giving all the challenges ahead to God. "If I don't give today to God, it's just not gonna work out. The challenges before us are too great.”

Learn more about The Vine and other programs of New Life Centers.