A few weeks ago, on February 10, Sarah’s Circle hosted our 21st Annual Winter Walk. The theme for this year’s walk was Walk a Homeless Mile. Our goal for the event was to increase awareness about homelessness in Chicago and raise critical funds for Sarah’s Circle. We successfully accomplished both goals!
While we reflected upon the challenges faced by women struggling with homelessness, we also celebrated the new projects underway at Sarah’s Circle—the construction of our new building and the renovation of our Interim Housing program. We were fortunate to have a former client return to speak at our event and share her experience of homelessness as well as the ways she was able to rebuild her life with the help of Sarah’s Circle’s supportive clinical, case management, and housing services.
Wendy first came to Sarah’s Circle in 2011 after a few months of being homeless. She was initially a part of Sarah’s Interim Housing program and was able to use Sarah's Circle's services to achieve employment and permanent housing last year. She will have her one-year housing anniversary in March and is one of the 95 women Sarah’s Circle placed in permanent housing this year! Anne also brought her happy and healthy six week old son with her to the event.
Thank you for supporting women like Wendy and for helping us to end homelessness for Chicago’s most vulnerable women!
Too often, Chicago’s most vulnerable women feel voiceless and out of control of their circumstances. Meet Melinda.
At one time in her life, Melinda lived by the philosophy of “taking control of everything, and making things happen.” In 2005, however, she faced a tragedy beyond her control--the death of her sister. After this devastating loss, Melinda left home and set out to find a new life in Indiana. Unable to gain proper footing there after a number of years, Melinda found herself on a bus headed to Chicago in hopes of finding stability.
Melinda went from shelter to shelter and slept on public benches before hearing about a “safe space” in Uptown that worked with women. She sought out Sarah’s Circle and began the process of regaining control of her life—“The workers at Sarah’s Circle treated me with dignity and respect. Sarah’s Circle helped me to get my identification cards, access resources for food, and supported me in my efforts to return back to school."
This past year has been an eventful one at Sarah’s Circle. We took on a 50-bed interim housing program for women expanding our services to 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, expanded our clinical services, and began construction on our new building. We are planning for further improvements in staffing and facilities for interim housing. These developments have had and will continue to have a profound effect on the lives of women like Melinda.
Melinda is now working with a case manager to find a job and secure permanent, affordable housing. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with the staff and other women at Sarah's Circle.
"I am extremely grateful for there being a Sarah’s Circle and the wonderful people they get to work with us [ladies]. They really go out of their way and motivate me to do better."
Your support allows us to continue to help women like Melinda. Thank you!
We are excited to begin construction on our new home that will house our daytime program, office space for housing, case management and clinical services, and ten apartment for women with a history of chronic homelessness. The building will enable Sarah's Circle to serve a growing number of women in their efforts to secure permanent housing and increase their self sufficiency.
This building is made possible by pro bono legal and architectural services provided by Mayer Brown and Perkins + Will, and funding from individuals, foundations, the City of Chicago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and the Illinois Development Authority, representing their shared commitment to ending homeless for women in Chicago.
Next Wednesday we will host a Groundbreaking Ceremony to mark the beginning of construction. All are welcome to join Sarah's Circle at this celebration on September 12th, from 6pm-8pm. It will be held at the Boys & Girls Club across the street from the new building site at 4835 N Sheridan Road. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served. Senator Heather Steans and Alderman James Cappleman will give opening remarks at 6:30pm, highlighting the importance of Sarah's Circle. Additionally, a client who recently secured housing will speak about her experience with homelessness.
We hope you'll be able to join us! If you plan to come, please email Caroline at email@example.com.
Thank you again for your commitment to Sarah's Circle's work and believing in our mission.
Meet Joyce, affectionately known as JJ. She plays an important role on Sarah's Circle's Board of Directors and is a former client of Sarah's Circle.
JJ worked for thirty five years in the Trauma Unit of Cook County Hospital. While she worked hard every day and at many night shifts, she found time on the side to pursue her passion for cosmetology. In fact, she attended school part-time and received a full scholarship. Her true passion, she still says, is cosmetology and doing hair. She worked full-time at the hospital while working part-time at a salon to pursue her more creative talents.
But a traumatic experience in 2002 was a turning point in JJ’s life. When she returned home from work one day, her son beat her so intensely that she was left physically and mentally traumatized. “I didn’t even know who I was after that. I was so lost. I couldn’t believe my son would beat me like he did. His eyes were so cold... like he was on drugs.” After this crisis, she was so traumatized and in such physical and emotional pain that she couldn’t go back to work. “From my job, I never got any closure. The reason I left [so abruptly] is because of the trauma I had.” Subsequently, she lost everything financially and could no longer afford her apartment.
After she was released from the hospital, she stayed in an Interim Housing Program in the Uptown neighborhood in Chicago. This was when she also started coming to Sarah’s Circle for daytime supportive services.
“I went to – and still go to – the trauma, mood management, and art therapy groups at Sarah's Circle. Art therapy really calms me down. Mood management helps me deal with my anxiety. Trauma group helps me realize other people have experienced it, and it makes me feel like I’m not alone.”
While a local agency helped JJ secure transitional housing for 2 years, she was unsatisfied with the arrangements and did not have the option to choose where she lived. She became involved in an advocacy campaign in support of getting affordable housing in Uptown. She applied to become a resident at an Uptown apartment building, was accepted, and became a resident. This is where she has been living for the past 2 years. “I like my place. I chose the apartment I wanted.”
“The first 2 years I came here I couldn’t comprehend or stay focused because of the trauma I had been through. Attending the different groups at Sarah's Circle really helped me. Every time I go through my depressed phase, Sarah’s Circle helps me. I always know I have a place to come where I feel safe.”
JJ was the oldest of 11 children. “I always had the responsibility of taking care of my siblings. Now I’m 69 and I just need to take care of myself. It’s uncomfortable; I have to learn how to take care of just Joyce. I’ve learned to jot things down and stay focused and work on socializing more. I’m participating in a walking club through my building.” She's also a very active member of the community.
“Sarah’s Circle has helped me love myself more, and I’ve learned that when I need help, I should let someone know. I know that I can always come to Sarah’s Circle for help.”
Thank you for your support of Sarah's Circle.
Tina is a compassionate woman who enjoys caring for others. For years she worked as a Certified Nurse's Assistant, dedicated to the patients she helped.
Tina became homeless in 2008 when she lost her job and left her boyfriend. Since then she has received help with her depression through clinical services at Sarah's Circle. In large part, her depression is rooted in a long history of trauma and domestic violence.
Where is Tina now?
Tina is one of many success stories at Sarah's Circle.
Sarah's Circle's Housing Coordinator placed 60 women in permanent housing in 2011.
Thanks to donors like you, Tina and women like her have rebuilt their lives.
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