When Derrick lost his mother in Alabama, he felt he could no longer live in a place where everything reminded him of her. He came home to Chicago, seeking shelter to restart his life in a familiar place. He found that shelter in Pacific Garden Mission (PGM), where a staff member referred him to Cara.
In October 2019, Derrick began his Cara journey at our downtown campus in our traditional four-week Transformations classes. He embraced the work each and every day to overcome fear, pain, and loss. By January 2020, Derrick had landed a job as a housekeeper with Shirley Ryan Ability Lab.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chicago.
To keep residents and staff safe, PGM restricted movement in and out of the shelter. Derrick was faced with an impossible choice: keep the job and look for new housing, or keep the housing but be unable to travel to work. He chose the former and moved temporarily into a hotel so he could keep his job.
After searching for a permanent place to live, Derrick found a new home, but the move-in fees were too high. He applied for assistance through Cara’s Emergency Fund, and two months later, he was able to secure his own apartment.
“I appreciate the people that helped me who I’ll never know, who I’ll never see. That’s the reason that I am where I am now, because of the people supporting Cara. They helped me get my life together, and I appreciate them so much. I really do.”Derrick, Cara Class of October 2019
Derrick recently celebrated his one-year anniversary at Shirley Ryan, which at Cara we call his Great Wall Ceremony. When asked to share the greatest lesson he learned over the past year, Derrick said, “Always keep looking forward and straight because you’re living and you’re healthy. You want to have a good life, and you want to be happy.”
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