Casa Esperanza came into being in September 1993 under the direction of Sr. Jean Kielty. The Casa Esperanza Project was born out of her experience of working with homeless families at St. Sylvester’s transitional shelter. Here, she became aware that the three-month limit was not long enough to allow many women with several children enough time to develop personal, job related, and parenting skills that would help them move away from the lifestyle of poverty toward independence. Targeting women whose dignity has been injured by homelessness and poverty, Casa Esperanza recognizes the goodness in these women and seeks to empower them by giving them--and their children--the time, shelter, space, and opportunity necessary to heal themselves and fulfill their potential.
Casa Esperanza provides women with necessary training and skills through workshops in collaboration with the University of Illinois Extension. Women and their children are introduced to the basics of maintaining healthy lifestyles. As one of Casa Esperanza’s main sponsors, Catholic Relief Services provides an annual Rice Bowl grant that enables this program to run smoothly. Other workshops include financial management, parenting, and interview and resume workshops, all to help the women fully prepare for job interviews, and make them ready to integrate into “the outer world.”
In addition, case management meetings are held with each resident to address goals that are set in a practical and realistic manner. Women are also provided with job leads and kept updated about how and where to obtain permanent housing as they transition to independent living.
Tanisha, a former resident of Casa Esperanza, has met with personal, professional and social success since her stay. Tanisha currently works at a reputable insurance agency, and she credits Casa for her current status as a financially stable insurance agent. A resident of Casa from July 2012 to December 2013, Tanisha said, "I would tell people don't give up. But you have to want it. You have to get out there and do what you need to do to make it happen. I never thought I would be homeless, but Casa helped me get it together." Tanisha is pleased to report that she is now in the market to purchase a home.
By Hannah Anokye
Director, Casa Esperanza Project
Casa Esperanza is a current CRS Rice Bowl grantee. When you Pray, Fast, Learn, and Give with CRS Rice Bowl during Lent, 25% of your gift supports our local CRS Rice Bowl grantees.