While trying to find more ways to help the Evanston community after leaving the corporate business world, Clarence and Wendy Weaver decided in 2014 to open C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor at 1901 Church St.
Eight years later, C&W has expanded its community efforts through its foundation, workforce development, a soon-to-come food pantry and an ice cream truck.
As COVID-19 consumed the world, Clarence said he noticed more and more how many Evanstonians were suffering from food and job insecurity. In response, he and Wendy launched the C&W Foundation, a non-profit that serves families and seniors in the Evanston community with groceries and other essential supplies.
“A lot of Black and brown individuals lost their jobs during COVID,” he said. “We feel like the need for food for families still exists, so we continue to provide groceries to families every Saturday.”
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturdays, the corner of Dodge and Church fills with volunteers ready to bag up food and other supplies for more than 200 Evanston families. So far they have raised almost $8,000 of their $50,000 goal.
But things don’t stop there. Clarence said that C&W will be partnering with the Rotary Club in the next few weeks to install a permanent food pantry inside the Dodge Avenue entrance of C&W.
“Food insecurity is something that was active before COVID and is active now,” Clarence explained. “People need to know where they can go and that they can have their concerns addressed.”
At the same time, Clarence and Wendy were facing their own setbacks from the pandemic. Most of the business traffic C&W receives is from Evanston Township High School, which is directly across the street.
As ETHS went remote, hybrid and then back in-person, the Weavers also felt the changes. They lost 85% of their traffic when ETHS first went remote, but with school back in-person, traffic has steadily increased again.
“We still don’t know when normal will return,” he said.
Renee Eason, a C&W employee, is a second-generation Evanstonian. At 67, she recently retired and was looking for ways to become active in the community. She had known Clarence and Wendy for a while and said a little voice in her head told her to “Call the Weavers.” Years later she still works Tuesday through Saturday at C&W.
“This was an opportunity for me to get out of my boredom, and working here and helping the Weavers is refreshing,” she said. “It’s very educational for me, I have never been on this side of the coin, knowing how a business is run. They have so many opportunities available to the community and ideas to better the area. The pandemic didn’t stop them either.”
While Eason doesn’t help with the Saturday foundation work, she said she has seen how it impacts Evanston residents in need and how dedicated Clarence and Wendy are to improving Evanston. She first met Clarence and Wendy in the insurance field, and after retiring she said she is happy to work somewhere she enjoys so much.
“[Clarence and Wendy] serve the community unselfishly. I feel a warm sense of accomplishment working here, and to have something worthwhile to do.”