Hard-Hit South Side Business Owners Get Checks Thanks To These Women’s Fundraising Drive

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BRONZEVILLE — When Candice Payne and Arsiak Vartenian saw the damage being done to small businesses on the South Side this summer, they knew they needed to help.

The two Chicago realtors began raising money on GoFundMe and elsewhere to support stores damaged in the looting that rocked the city.

Last week, Payne and Vartenian began distributing the thousands of dollars they collected, making the rounds to a half-dozen shops, some still partially boarded up. Each got checks of $1,500-$2,500.

For many of the businesses, looting and damage was one more thing to worry about on top of the many struggles the pandemic brought.

“This is just us trying to find a way to give back,” Payne said. “When women come together we can really do some magic.”

During the 2019 polar vortex, Payne made headlines after helping more than 100 people experiencing homelessness get off the street and into hotel rooms.

Vartenian knew she wanted to help after watching the news during the looting. In addition to the more than $10,000 raised, she kicked in $5,000.

“I was sitting at home and watching all of this unfold, all this social unrest unfold. I felt helpless,” Vartenian said. “There was a problem and there had …

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