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Oreletta gets torn down and built back up

Oreletta, a Cara graduate who started her journey with us in 1995, and again in 2011, shares overcoming heartache and building herself back up.

“My Cara journey started in 1995. I was homeless at the time, living in a Catholic Charities shelter up on the north side in Humboldt Park. Cara had a partnership with Catholic Charities and I remember, to get into Cara, you had to write an essay and be interviewed by a Catholic Charities social worker, staff members from Cara, and Mr. Owens himself. It was really scary because I never had that type of challenge in my life.

For years, I struggled with addiction and it was what defined me to others. No one ever took the time to see my self-worth past the drugs. They never saw that other part of me that was still there, deep down. Cara changed that.”

I’ve been through a lot of heartaches

“After coming to Cara that first time, I got my own apartment. I got my GED. I got married. Now I’ve been clean and sober 25 years, but in that time, I’ve also been through a lot of heartaches. My husband and I bought a house in 2000 and started a day care center. However, he passed away in 2004. I was left carrying a lot of that pain. I was raising six kids by myself. Business got kind of rough, and it really wasn’t making a lot of money. I knew I needed a new beginning, so I returned to Cara in 2011.”

I got a chance to confront Oreletta

“At that point in my life, I was sober, but I was not healthy. Through Cara, I got a chance to confront Oreletta, a chance to have people support me, a chance to move on. I got the job training and the motivation, but also the opportunity to talk about personal issues that I had never addressed before. That’s what I really needed. That made all the difference.

“I got the help needed to build me up as a person. Cara gave me the strength and motivation to say, ‘You can write this essay; you can apply for college; you can be successful in college; you can be successful in your relationships; you can be successful as a parent.’”

Wonderful workers and wonderful people

“Today, I’m an employee of Rush University Medical Center. I’ve been here for six years. I work with the community, with women and families, helping them get mammograms and biopsies. I work with a lot of women and men that are diagnosed with cancer, staying with them through that whole continuum. I’m doing a lot of what Cara stands for: giving back to the community and helping build it up.

“Whatever your situation, you come to Cara as a whole person. When they support people, they support the whole person. That’s one of my mottos when I’m working at Rush. I don’t treat an illness because you can’t. It’s more than an illness; an illness comes with a person, so you treat the whole person. Cara changes lives by creating wonderful workers and wonderful people. I’m not saying they weren’t wonderful from the beginning, but some people need to be built up, like a car or a house. You just get torn down, and Cara helps build you back up with a solid foundation.”

Your support this holiday season ensures more stories of transformation like Oreletta’s will be told in our next 30 years. Please consider making a gift of any amount to fuel this work. Thank you for your generosity.