After falling on difficult times, Andre, Karla, and their seven children left their home in Indiana to seek new opportunities in Chicago. The housing situation they met in the new city was not as they had planned, and the family of nine found accommodation in shelters for two years. Despite their circumstances, the family remained hopeful and determined to find security and stability.

Through Breakthrough’s partnership with the Department of Family Support Services (DFSS) and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), the family received a voucher for Breakthrough’s Permanent Supportive Housing program. They were identified as a family that could be housed securely if given the proper supports.

In August of 2018, they met with Breakthrough Housing Coordinator Lauren Cole, and together they were able to secure a two-story home in the suburbs. Once the family was connected to a home, they lacked sufficient beds, a dinning table, and a host of other household necessities.

Church Partnership Keeps Family Grounded in Hope 1
Karla’s family moving into their new home.

Reflecting on her experience partnering with Breakthrough, Karla said, “From the beginning, Ms. Cole helped me to not only maintain hope for our situation, but she also encouraged me to address our personal and health needs. When we were approved for our voucher, many organizations could not assist with furniture because we were moving out of the city and into Cook county. Ms. Cole, however, remained optimistic that we would get the help we needed and continued her efforts to find resources.”

At this time, Willow Creek Church Chicago was seeking local service opportunities and identified Breakthrough as a good partner. Under the leadership of Michael Goggins, the church’s Director of Compassion and Justice, volunteers assembled for the cause. The group gauged the families likes and dislikes, and they filled the family’s home with furniture and appliances, helping them settle into their new space.

Goggins was unsure of what to expect when he arrived at Karla’s home. “I was quickly acquainted with the family members, and I got to hear their story and how much Breakthrough has provided them,” he recalled. “I believe the family is in a much better position to continue working to achieve their vision knowing they have a safe home for rest and community after a hard day of work or school.”

Today, Lauren meets with Karla and her husband once a month, and Breakthrough continues to provide supportive services to the family. Lauren describes their family, especially their children, as resilient, determined, and hopeful. They have been enrolled in a good school system, and the stability of their home has allowed the family to continue moving forward.

“Now that we are settled, the ongoing relationship we have with Breakthrough has also been beneficial as Ms. Cole has continued her encouragement and assistance as we continue toward a life of self sufficiency and family well being,” she said. 

Like Karla’s family, those who have experienced homelessness are not downtrodden and hopeless. Lauren says Breakthrough prioritizes breaking down this stigma.

“Homelessness is not the end of the story, and our families know that,” she explained. “We are blessed to encounter people who know that with the right assistance, they are able to create a new narrative, and control how their stories end. We are honored to walk along these families to help them see that new reality.”

Karla and her family arrived in Chicago hopeful that they would meet opportunities, and this optimism has persisted.

“Many organizations offer resources but in my opinion, Breakthrough is most valuable because it offers help, hope, and friendship, and we are forever grateful.”


*Names in this story have been altered to protect the subject’s identity*