You’re a modern, educated, urbane sort of well-intentioned do-gooder so I don’t need to tell you that hunger and homelessness are on the rise. The LA Times story has all the statistics you could want, but – particularly in a city like Chicago – you don’t need the numbers to know this lack’s depth. From makeshift underpass shelters to Streetwise slingers downtown, the spectre of homelessness inhabits all corners of Chicago. We often think of it as a social issue, a syndrome – homelessness is endlessly intellectualized and cast into numbers that, frankly, are never quite surprising. We are accustomed to it.
Fighting homelessness seems too large a task for any one organization much less an individual. What good will a dollar in a cup really do? Where will that volunteer hour go, once spent? We question how real an impact our daily efforts might actually have because we recognize the untenable breadth of true poverty, theoretically if not intimately. We are only human.
This is why organizations that focus on particular aspects of the larger problem, organizations that are realistic and driven in their razor sharp missions, are invaluable to our city’s social health. This is why we are excited to introduce you to our latest partner, Facing Forward to End Homelessness.
Facing Forward to End Homelessness ends homelessness for families and individuals by offering hope, help and housing. Facing Forward provides permanent housing, education, advocacy, and social services.
Facing Forward residents are determined women who, finding themselves homeless and broken, made the difficult decision to examine their lives and forge a new path. By surrounding these women with a framework of support and holding them accountable for their progress, Facing Forwardgives them the best chance for a new life.
One of the hidden tragedies of homelessness is that families shuttle from shelter to shelter with their children constantly changing schools. We break the cycle of homelessness by creating a stable family environment where both women and their children can thrive. With a supportive community, a school to call their own and a chance for lasting friendships, our children flourish. Ninety-seven percent of Facing Forward children are working at grade level and twelve students are attending college.
Facing Forward fosters an atmosphere of achievement where goals are set, met and celebrated. We are a vibrant and cohesive organization where everyone works together to help the women overcome obstacles. We have a proven record of success. Eighty-eight percent of Facing Forward alumnae families are self-sufficient and paying full market rent.
The Facing Forward approach includes three projects that catalyze and nurture homeless women’s and families’ eventual self-sustainability by providing affordable housing, casework, clothing, and household goods. Support from the Chicago community, as well as from the Department of Children and Family services, has kept Facing Forward in the business of helping families for 27 years. Here’s to another 27, and only more after that. We have a lot of work to do.
To support Facing Forward, consider donating clothing – especially winter attire, adult business wear, and children’s and infant’s clothing -, household items, and nonperishable goods; there are certainly families who need them! Follow Facing Forward on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with their latest news.