Stories from the 'Hood
These two cuties found each other at New Life Interim Housing. Two little girls, around the same age, living together in dormatory style living. They immediately became BFF's and love playing together. Their mom's are grateful for a warm, caring place to stay, three meals a day and people to walk alongside them as they piece their lives together after becoming homeless. But they are anxious about their futures and impatient with the slow-moving timeline. They are anxious to find training and educational offerings, find employment, and move into a place of their own. Homelessness and poverty is hard work. The mom's at GNP's New Life Interim Housing are some of the strongest women you will ever know. Going through hardship, keeping their family together, and working tirelessly to make their future brighter.
Welcome to Stacy Adams, who joined Good News Partners in February as our new Grant Manager. Stacy comes to us with extensive experience in writing grants for affordable housing. She worked for Bethel New Life in this capacity before coming to GNP. Welcome, Stacy!
A great big welcome to GNP's new Comptroller, Kenn Johnson. Ken's background in Business Management is an important asset to GNP and we are blessed to have him as part of the team. (BTW, Peter Horth is transitioning to his new role as GNP's Education Coordinator and we are excited to have him back with the kids again!).
Quenica Thornton admits that most people would not have even known she was homeless. After all, her children were on the honor roll, she was highly involved with school committees, and she grew up in a stable, loving home. But what appears to be true on the outside often does not reflect what is going on in the heart.
Quenica first moved into New Life Interim Housing in November 2009. “When I first came to New Life I was very upset,” she says. “New Life was the third shelter I was in. None of the other shelters I stayed in were helping me or giving me the resources to move out.” But her attitude was transformed shortly after arriving at her new home in New Life. She felt comfortable, loved and part of a family.
Quenica’s upbringing was nothing short of a blessing. She grew up in a stable home, with two working parents who were dedicated to their children. Quenica became the caretaker of her father who was suffering from diabetes. When he passed away in 2002, she had nowhere to go, so she moved to Tennessee to stay with her older brother. She struggled to find a job there because of the difficult economy and decided to return to Chicago to find employment.
That is when her search began. She was not only in search of a place to call home for her and her two children, but she was also in need of a new start. During her 11-month stay at New Life, she found a stable job, worked with the staff to find permanent housing, and most importantly, she felt part of a loving community. “My time at New Life was like a re-birth,” she says. “I was able to start over here. I got a new and fresh perspective on life itself.”
Quenica describes her transition of moving out of New Life. “I needed to have my own motivation, but Good News Partners gave me a push. They provided the resources for me and encouraged me to go out and look for a job and permanent housing.”
Although Quenica is no longer a GNP resident, we keep a close relationship with her because of her new role in the neighborhood as a New Life employee. “The very fact that I can work at a place I resided in is an honor,” she says. “I never would have thought this would happen.” She looks forward to the opportunities to help encourage other women who are in the same situation she found herself in four years ago. She uses her experience to motivate and inspire others. GNP is blessed to have such a joyous and encouraging spirit in our midst.
Jimi Hickman is a member of the Good News Partners Board of Directors and also lives in the GNP neighborhood. His story is one of overcoming extreme hardship as a child and rebuilding his life.
Jimi was raised in adverse poverty by two teenage parents, one of which was an alcoholic. He experienced abuse and had little academic stimulation. When Jimi was 17, his mother was murdered and he was soon after kicked out of the home he was living in. Jimi says he "raised himself." He moved into his cousin's home, completed high school and joined the military. In his mid-20's, Jimi began to contemplate his future and dreamed of ways to start his own business.
In 1999, Jimi found himself divorced and broke, with nowhere to go. He moved into the Jonquil Hotel Single Room Occupancy affordable housing, began rebuilding his life and, at the same time, became an active partner in building the community. It was at this time he signed up for an individual account program, which was a life-long dream. He continues to operate a residential and commercial cleaning business that contributes to support the economy in the North of Howard neighborhood by hiring employees from the community.
Jimi's dynamic role in the community and the Good News Partners family has served as a model for others who are in need of hope and motivation in the midst of trials and tribulations. He has not only served on the Board of Directors for the last 10 years, but is also the president of his housing co-operative association, a respected business owner in the neighborhood, and far from where he started on the South Side of Chicago. Jimi sums it up by saying, "Good News Partners has provided opportunities for personal growth and expansion. I was ready for something to help me move forward in my own personal life. With the help and synergy of Good News Partners I have developed into who I have wanted to be."