Help Empower Women Who are Homeless in Chicago

by Sarah's Circle
Jun 12, 2012

JJ's story.

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. 


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Organization Information

Sarah's Circle

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Elizabeth Dunn
Chicago, IL United States
$20,924 raised of $35,000 goal
407 donations
$14,076 to go
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