"They taught me how to recapture my life, I think about them, and pray for them every day."
Diana, a divorced mom with children, worked at a hospital in Northwest Indiana. She lost her health, her job, her home, and then her children. Diana didn’t realize she had heart problems. Her doctor ordered a pacemaker to forestall further even more serious problems. While convalescing, Diana lost her job, and with it her health insurance.
Without an income, Diana was unable to pay rent and continue to feed her children. In no time at all, she was evicted from her home. She had to send her children to live with her estranged husband, and give or sell all of her belongings. For the next two months, Diana herself ended up navigating Chicago’s overnight shelter system, never knowing where she’d be each night, spending her days seeking medical care at community health clinics, and never knowing if she’d ever be able to have her children again.
Then one day a social worker at one of the community clinics, recognized the severity of her health problems, contacted The Boulevard, and we accepted her into the program. When she arrived at The Boulevard, she was homeless, broken and felt defeated. She had lost her children, her home, her job, and her health insurance.
At The Boulevard, staff immediately helped Diana stabilize her health, connected her with benefit programs, and begin the search for permanent housing. Diana qualified for a housing subsidy, which she used to secure an apartment in a two-flat on the north-west side of Chicago.
When moving day arrived, The Boulevard was able to activate our extensive and phenomenally generous network of organizations and corporate volunteers to provide furniture, dishes, pots & pans, towels & sheets, and even a nicely stocked pantry. The Boulevard repeats this move-in cycle nearly 150 times a year.
Above you'll see pictures of some of the people who make the mission of The Boulevard possible.
Every week at The Boulevard we host Men's and Women's Discussion Groups, so that smaller gatherings of residents can discuss concerns, gaining encouragement and ideas from staff and from each other. The Women's Group that took place today was serious but still included moments of laughter...as people took off their "masks" and helped each other along.
"In my 20+ years here, I have seen proof that The Boulevard saves lives. Homeless people CAN recover their lives! That's why I'm still here." - Jennifer Nelson-Seals, Chief Executive Officer, shares why The Boulevard is an inspiration to her.
Jane, a member of our Associate Board, shares, "The Boulevard has provided me with an opportunity to help others. I am grateful for my friends and family (pictured here) who have supported the Boulevard. My favorite experiences are cooking for and serving the residents. Now more than ever, 'giving back' has a new found meaning in my life."
Sarah, the President of our Associate Board, says this: "'Do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone.'- Andy Stanley. The Boulevard has taught me that contributions to a few are just as important as contributions to many. Each life touched by The Boulevard is nurtured with individual, customized care. The impact of such specialized attention cannot be denied. It is a privilege to contribute a small part of the success The Boulevard has seen by doing for one, one at a time."
Our Case Managers are amazing people who offer patience, ideas, and a listening ear to residents throughout their journey at The Boulevard! Below, Miss Beverly explains why, after 20 years in social services, she enjoys using her talents at The Boulevard.
(Below) In 1994, a group of religious and community leaders created a safe place for ill and injured homeless Chicagoans. In so doing, they became leaders in the "Medical Respite" model for homeless recovery, which has now grown to national recognition. Interfaith House--now The Boulevard: The Road to Health and Home--became a premier service provider that clients continually say is the "Taj Mahal" of homeless agencies in Chicago. This unique place does not exist without our founders and countless donors who believe in the connection between housing and health. THANK YOU! Please pass the word along...
(Below) Every day, Boulevard staff provide transportation for residents to locations all over Chicago: Places like the Veteran's Administration, chemotherapy appointments, meetings with disability administrators, and visits to potential apartments. This makes it so much more possible for clients to rebuild their health and lives.
We wish you well, Cheryl! Not long ago, one of our residents moved out of The Boulevard and into her own apartment. During her time here, Cheryl has volunteered in several ways and has made many friends while recovering from surgery. She told us she will miss The Boulevard but will visit soon (as many former residents do).
“When I first came to The Boulevard, I was worried. I had to watch people, I didn’t know them. I told myself I wouldn’t talk to anyone. When you hear about shelters, you hear about the negatives. No one wants to go there.
Cheryl eventually told Boulevard staff about her past and current difficulties. Her boyfriend had not contributed to their shared rent, and after she lost her factory job to outsourcing, the two were evicted. Cheryl’s boyfriend went to live with his relatives, keeping many of their shared belongings. In addition, physical problems affected her ability to find new work and her unemployment benefits ran out. Cheryl was stunned to find herself without income, and homeless.
“My ex abandoned me, he never asked about me again when I became homeless.”
Cheryl spent a year trying to regain her independence: living with friends or acquaintances and scraping together enough money for a motel when she had no other options. “It felt terrible: I was always stressed out. [When] you can’t do for yourself, you feel like you’re in a cage.”
Unable to obtain employment and denied disability benefits, Cheryl acted on the recommendation of a social worker and contacted The Boulevard. She gathered all the required paperwork, made the necessary phone calls, and followed up repeatedly until a bed became available. She moved in almost immediately, and over time she learned to trust the staff and the programs at The Boulevard.
“The staff really go out of their way. They don’t make you feel like you’re homeless, they make you feel like a person—they made me feel I was not a failure, but that I could do what I set my mind to. They offer you all kinds of things: meals, clothes, shoes, transportation to appointments, and the Employment Program. If you have all that, why not use it?” Cheryl explains how much she values the Program Staff who have listened to her and encouraged her. “I talked about how I felt, and about my ex, and about my mother not wanting me when I was young. But the staff said, ‘Cheryl, you’re going to be okay.’ “
Now that she has undergone two surgeries and recovered at The Boulevard, Cheryl has obtained a housing voucher and is looking for an apartment. She enjoys being a go-getter, someone who makes things happen. “I want to feel like I have a purpose, like I can do for myself and not have to depend on someone else.” Cheryl represented The Boulevard at the Greater Chicago Food Depository Annual Hunger Walk, and she says, “I appreciate the Boulevard and everybody that’s here. I don’t know where I would have ended up. It saved my life.”
Do you want to help give someone a second chance?
There are many ways to help our organization grow. You can donate your time, money, goods or services.
If you would like to send a tax-deductible donation by check, please make it out to: The Boulevard of Chicago, and mail to: The Boulevard, 3456 W. Franklin Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60624.
Together we can help The Boulevard thrive. By making a tax-deductible donation, you can help provide the following:
- $2,700 ensures 30 days of housing, health care and support services for one resident.
- $1,250 provides all 64 of The Boulevard residents with meals and snacks for one week.
- $750 ensures weekly transportation services to and from off-site appointments including housing visits and follow-up care.
- $300 supplies all of The Boulevard residents’ basic clothing and toiletry needs for one month.
- Any size gift will help The Boulevard continue to serve ill and injured homeless adults.
Host a Donation Drive
Fun, collaborative and easy, Donation Drives are a great way to get your friends, family or colleagues involved! You can sponsor a Donation Drive for gently used linens and kitchen items, new socks and underclothing, or new personal care products.
- Volunteers leading a donation drive will receive an acknowledgement letter for their entire group.
- Donation delivery: The Boulevard is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
- Contact Kathy Cepeda, Volunteers Coordinator 773-533-6013 x253 email@example.com
Want to donate something other than money?
We are always in need of the following:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants (non-expired products)
- Cotton underwear for men and women
- Wal-Mart or Target gift cards
(for purchasing underclothing for our residents)
New or Gently Used Items
- Health Care Items
(heat/ice packs, eye masks)
- Housewarming kits
- Rain hoods/hats
- Rain boots
IMPORTANT INFO RE: Winter 2017 Clothing Donations
We have very little space in our donation closet right now: We need XL-XXXL men's pants/shirts and shoes for winter, but are not in need of any other pants/shirts. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Thanks!
We are a 501c 3 charitable organization.