Over our thirty year history, Sarah’s Circle has evolved from a daytime drop-in center to a multi-faceted agency with comprehensive services and permanent supportive housing. We continue to expand our services, aimed towards empowering some of Chicago's most vulnerable women, despite the tough economic climate that has led to less financial support and, at the same time, an unprecedented number of new clients. From 2008 to 2009, the average number of women per day increased from 49 to 63. This rapid influx has led to more women needing food, toiletries, case management, bus cards and vital documents, housing support services, and clinical services. Your generous support through Global Giving has helped us not only meet the needs of our clientele in the present, but also expand our programs to improve the depth of service we provide. Women make up approximately 35% of the 21,078 people who are homeless on a typical night in Chicago, according to a 2007 study by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. As the only woman-only social services agency in the Uptown neighborhood, Sarah’s Circle fills a critical service gap in the community by providing a full range of services in a woman-friendly environment. Our multi-faceted approach caters well to the needs of our guests, many of whom face multiple challenges in their lives. Out of 363 women who received case management intakes in 2009, 39% struggled with substance abuse, 59% struggled with diagnosed mental illness, 57% had chronic health problems and/or a physical disability, 72% were homeless and 100% were below the poverty line. Considering that 59% of the women we serve struggle with mental illness, Sarah's Circle has made its in-house clinical services a top priority. The lack of government-funded health services in our neighborhood makes the need for in-house clinical services is even greater. We have added new therapy groups (Mood Management, Meditation, and a group for women who are newly homeless) and have added a licensed clinician who conducts individual counseling. We also have Domestic Violence and Trauma Therapy programs, both critical programs considering the alarming number of women at Sarah's Circle that have struggled with spousal abuse. A 2007 Sarah's Circle survey revealed that 60%, or approximately 390 women, were, or had once been, in a violent relationship with a spouse and had not received services. According to a study in Chicago in 2003 by the National Coalition for the Homeless, 55% of women in homeless shelters reported that they had been survivors of domestic violence, and 22% cited domestic violence as the primary cause of homelessness. More than ever, your support is truly critical as we adjust to an unprecedented number of women utilizing our services. We have benefited greatly from your past support, which has gone directly towards helping some of Chicago’s most vulnerable women receive essential services, such as food, toiletries, health services, and housing. I know the economy is tough, so thank you for investing your hard-earned money in our cause to empower women and ultimately help them realize their unique potential.
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