Because Sarah embodies all that is a CNN Hero, we have thrown our hat in the ring in the hopes that she will be recognized nationally for the work she does right here in our own backyard.
Here is the official submission:
Sarah Galvan is the founder and executive director of Almost Home Chicago, Inc., a 501(c)(3) grassroots, nonprofit organization serving the needy in Chicago's south suburbs.
Living the organization's mission statement to be the hands, feet, and voice of hope by providing food, clothing, shelter, jobs, and love to those who need it most, in 2015, Sarah panhandled to raise the initial $1200 needed for start up costs.
Sarah's journey to bring Almost Home to life began much earlier.
At 17, Sarah graduated from high school and became pregnant with her first child just seven months later. Growing up quickly as a new, young mother, Sarah met her husband at her second job. They fell in love quickly, married young, and expanded their family with more children.
As can happen with any family, the sudden loss of Sarah's job forced the Galvan family to make some hard decisions. Barely making ends meet, Sarah's husband was unexpectedly let go from his job, leaving this young family with next to nothing. A year later, the lights were out and Sarah and Adrian's house was in foreclosure. They began to sell their belongings - furniture, electronics, Adrian's tools, the childrens' toys, and their wedding rings. With a plan to live out of their van and in shelters with their five children, Sarah's parents, along with a stranger, pulled them from homelessness with two days to spare.
Sarah promised herself that she would do whatever she could to pay it forward.
On March 14th, 2015, at the intersection of 87th Street and Cicero Avenue in Chicago, Sarah encountered four grown men standing in the street, with cardboard signs, asking for help.
That evening, Sarah committed to making Almost Home Chicago a reality.
Four years later, Almost Home is a trusted and valued community partner.
Sarah, known as "The Mother Theresa of Hometown", and now a mother of seven, spends her days caring for those living in the ignored and forgotten segments of our communities. Self-professed as shy and socially awkward, Sarah is most comfortable working alongside those she serves - on the streets, in local shelters, and under the bridges among the area homeless. Although the foundation missions of Almost Home are rooted in bringing awareness to the homeless population, Sarah also works to serve single parents, victims of domestic violence, individuals facing true and significant financial hardship, and those struggling with alcohol and substance abuse.
Even I, as her Board president, along with close friends and family, don't see even the smallest glimpse of Sarah's outreach.
It is non-stop, it is unending, it is heartbreaking, it is fulfilling, and it is truly her life's work.
In 2018, Sarah lost her father, her best friend, Robbie (a homeless man living in a local bridge community), and a young man named Billy, who was homeless and shunned by his family as he suffered with end-stage cancer. We almost lost Sarah herself in October of 2018 due to severe complications following the birth of her seventh child. Throughout all of this tragedy, Sarah continued her work, putting her own needs to the side to ensure the safety of her friends living on the streets.
You didn't hear her name on the evening news, but during this past winter's Polar Vortex, Sarah spent the entire week locating her homeless friends, bringing them to safety and preventing their probable deaths.
To work alongside Sarah is inspirational beyond description. Her ability to bring together a community to provide assistance for someone in need is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Her selflessness, her compassion, her faith - it is impossible to know just how many thousands of individuals and families have been touched by Sarah's love. I know that I have been.
Thank you for considering Sarah Galvan as one of your CNN heroes - we know there are thousands of 'Sarahs" out there, doing the hard work without recognition. Sarah herself, will always deflect the attention away from herself.
Sarah is an extraordinary woman, and my hope is that I have given you enough of an insight to consider her for the recognition she so deserves.
Lara Batchelor, President
Almost Home Chicago, Inc.