'It almost brings you to tears': How Vaughn is making difference in Chicago

November 21st, 2023
Andrew Vaughn (middle) and his wife, Lexi, alongside members of Digs with Dignity

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin’s White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- For a moment, was at a loss for words.

That situation rarely plays out for the White Sox first baseman, who frequently is interviewed by the media as a frontline player for the South Siders. But this question wasn’t about baseball.

I spoke to Vaughn recently about the role he played with his wife, Lexi, and Digs With Dignity in helping furnish the Chicago apartment for a 24-year-old single mother and her 4-year-old son on Nov. 3. Not only did the Vaughns lend their assistance in redecorating, but they sponsored the $5,000 for the move. This total dollar amount covers employee costs, truck costs and all the things needed for the refurbishment, according to Kim Hannay, the founder and executive director of Digs With Dignity.

Vaughn’s search for words came when I asked what it was like to see the reaction of this particular mother and her son upon seeing their new place.

“They don’t really have to say anything. Their reaction speaks louder than anything,” Vaughn told me. “Just seeing how excited they got. It’s hard to describe it.

“It’s kind of that feeling when we were little kids on Christmas. Even times 10 because it’s their house, it’s where they get to live. The biggest thing is we are enhancing their way of life.”

Digs With Dignity began in October 2019, and it is about to furnish its 155th family. According to Hannay, Digs With Dignity started by collecting furniture and home goods from the community and using them for families who are exiting homelessness.

A passion project of helping those trying to get back on their feet evolved into breaking the cycle of homelessness “by furnishing homes in creative custom designs by using sustainable upcycled solutions,” Hannay continued.

“Everything we put into our homes is custom designed and refurbished by our team, and every week we are out on the road meeting our families,” Hannay said. “We go in and measure their space and ask them what colors they like and what their kids are into.

“We recognize we are just one piece of that puzzle. We can certainly ease the burden on a lot of our families that when they get housed, they can have a fully furnished space that makes them feel good, comfortable, and safe. They don’t have to decide, ‘Do I feed my family, or do I buy a sofa?’ That kind of removes that barrier for them.”

Those grateful recipients in this instance remain anonymous, but Hannay described a single mom who had dealt with significant domestic violence in her history. She had been homeless for several years and had fled a relationship that was abusive and dangerous for them.

She got involved with Facing Forward, a partner of Digs. For five years, she worked with them through the mental support needed to leave the relationship, get housed and move forward with her son.

“They are a wonderful family. So bright and full of energy,” Hannay said. “This is really good to make a difference for them to finally have their own space where they feel good and away from their past.”

The 4-year-old is very into Spiderman, so the Vaughns and the rest of the crew decorated his room in that superhero fashion. They also provided a Superman cape that he ran around with after returning home with his mom, and Vaughn signed a small White Sox jersey and a baseball for him.

“It almost brings you to tears,” Vaughn said. “It’s really special getting to see the little kid’s reaction. Jumping for joy, grabbing the toys. It’s a really good feeling. I will definitely do it again.

“Guys on the platform like us, we have the ability to reach out and send help to people who need help. There are so many people who need help, it’s unfathomable. Any little thing we can do, it’s very important.”