Sarah's Circle's Annual Christmas Dinner
Last Wednesday evening, we served Christmas dinner to over 70 women. Each woman also received a gift bag or stocking filled with hand-knit scarves, toiletries, wrapped presents, and baked goods.
A special thank you to our generous donors who donated holiday gifts: Marie Zimmerman, Debra Flynn, Sherry Barnett, "The Angel Team," Linda Williams, those over at St. John Fisher, McDonalds, and Brady, Connolly, & Masuda P.C.
We'd also like to thank our committed volunteers who helped serve the meal. You all helped make the event a success!
A closer look: our 50-bed interim housing program
The women currently in the program struggle with various challenges, and most have been homeless for years. Anne Marie Keswick, Program Director, explains, "95% of the women in the program have mental illnesses, while 85% are chronically homeless."
With these challenges, they will need a lot of support to stay housed, so the focus is on placing them in permanent supportive housing. Permanent supportive housing is affordable housing with case management and other supportive services to help formerly homeless people stay housed.
There is a shortage of permanent supportive housing and many requirements to get into programs, so we are delighted that Megan Libreros, Housing Coordinator, has already housed 3 women from the program since November 1st. This is in addition to her work housing women in the daytime program and providing case management to the women in Sarah's Circle's 11 housing units.
Thank you for your continued support.
We are able to provide life changing services for women who are homeless because of your confidence in our ability to deliver effective programs and your commitment to ending homelessness.
From all of us at Sarah's Circle, thank you again for all of your support. We wish happy and healthy New Year to all!
Effective November 1st, Sarah’s Circle has stepped up to operate a 50 bed shelter for women located on the North Side of Chicago. It is one of the largest programs of this type in Chicago, and was in jeopardy of closing permanently.
With this new Program, Sarah’s Circle will deliver all physical services, such as shelter, food, clothing, laundry, and hygiene, as well as comprehensive support services to 50 women 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The goal of the program will be to provide these services for the women while we work with them to find permanent housing, and then, once they are housed, provide services to ensure housing retention. While this is a big step for Sarah’s Circle, it is at the core of our mission, and with your support, the program will allow us to help even more women achieve permanent housing, employment, better health, and connections with family and friends.
With this shelter, we will be able to help more women like Julie secure permanent housing.
For over two decades, Julie was in and out of shelters, struggling with issues of mental illness and substance abuse. With comprehensive services that included support in obtaining consistent mental health services and disability benefits, we were able to move Julie into permanent housing with supportive services, where she has remained housed for over three years, after experiencing decades of homelessness. Julie is able to live independently and has reconnected with family in the suburbs of Chicago. Julie’s life is now significantly healthier in so many ways, and she is on a path to staying housed and healthy for the rest of her life.
Thank you for your support!
A woman named Mae stopped into my office a few weeks ago to let me know that with the help of Sarah’s Circle staff, she had secured a small apartment with a year of free rent. Mae told me, “I’ve been in shelters way too long. You know the first thing I’m going to do once I move in? I’m going to look for a job. It’s just so hard to do that while you’re homeless. There’s no time to rest; you’re constantly moving from place to place and worrying about the basics. It’s just too tiring to search for a job at the same time, but now that I have housing, I really want to find a steady job so I can take care of myself and take over the rent when the year is over. It means a lot to have a place of your own.”
With your support over the last year, Sarah's Circle placed 61 women like Mae in permanent housing through other housing providers. This is a measure of women who returned with a signed lease after working intensively with a case manager at Sarah's Circle to find an appropriate housing provider, obtain necessary documentation, and fulfill the requirements of the housing provider.
Thank you again for your continued support!
Women took time this spring to share their gifts with each other in a talent show. The much anticipated afternoon featured singing, dancing, poetry, comedy, and a winning harmonica performance. The show was a confidence booster to performers and empowered women to cultivate their personal strengths despite their housing status.
Several clients also participated in a 5K walk held Saturday June 11th. The walk was a fundraiser for the agency, but was also an opportunity for clients and community members to interact and exercise together.
Since January, the housing coordinator has placed 27 women in permanent housing and 53 women accomplished goals on their service plans.
A few years ago, Sarah's Circle began providing Clinical Services on site to address some of the trauma and mental illness contributing to housing instability for the women we serve. (Currently, approximately 58% of the women at Sarah's Circle struggle with some form of mental illness.) As our program has grown, we have maintained strong relationships with partners in the area who provide more intensive and complementary mental health services. In the past year however, due to budget cuts in Illinois, these partnering organizations have become unable to treat women without Medicaid or some other form of insurance!
A lack of any form of insurance is quite common among women who are homeless, especially those who are in crisis during their first incident of homelessness, when they need counseling the most. In response to this even more dire need, we have expanded our Clinical Services to include individual clinical counseling and more group therapy. We now have groups on Trauma, Domestic Violence, Mood Management, and Anxiety Management, as well as art therapy and individual counseling. Sarah's Circle also partners with a neighboring health services agency to provide biweekly medication management at Sarah's Circle. In 2010, 206 women participated in Clinical Services at Sarah's Circle.
I have personally heard glowing reports from women who have regained hope and learned new coping skills from a clinical counselor. One said to me "I have found the strength inside of me that I never knew I had".
Thanks to generous support from partners like you, we have been able to respond to this need in the community and help women regain their independence.
Today, March 16th, is a matching day at Global Giving, if you are interested in making a donation.
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