2019 - The First Five Months

Want to know how we are making a difference in 2019?

  • We provided shoes, socks, underwear, and pajamas for some of our shelter guests.

  • We expanded our service area to include Justice and Oak Forest.

  • We were able to help an Oak Lawn single mama catch up on her mortgage payment and prevent probable homelessness.

  • We were able to help a single mother from Chicago Ridge with one month of rent, one car payment, and her electric bill.

  • We partnered with Central Middle School in Evergreen Park for a MLK Day of Service project, spreading warmth throughout downtown Chicago.

  • We expanded our outreach to include spiritual care, and brought Reverend Larry Paris from the First United Methodist Church of Evergreen Park on board as our Pastoral Care Minister.

  • Smiln’ Clyde’s Hot Dogs in the Oak Lawn Library and Grassano’s Pizza of Oak Lawn joined Beggars Pizza of Oak Lawn as Almost Home Pending Meal partner restaurants.

  • We decided to hold non-denominational religious services under the bridge so our homeless friends have an opportunity to worship - first service will be held the first week of June.

  • We helped a local man catch up on rent to prevent homelessness.

  • We helped a friend with a portion of his rent so he wouldn’t end up back under the bridge.

  • We assisted a Hometown family with their water bill to avoid disconnection.

  • We provided a friend with a number of gift cards so she can eat while she is awaiting Link approval.

  • We gifted a friend from the shelter a gift card to Marshall’s so she could find the perfect interview outfit.

  • We helped a friend from the shelter with a month’s worth of bus fare.

  • We paid a phone bill for a young couple to help them with their job search.

  • We ordered 50 shower passes for our friends on the streets.

  • We helped a single mother of three in a domestic violence situation catch up on her rent and avoid eviction.

  • We helped a young couple from the shelter with a tow, two new tires, and a tank of gas.

  • We came together to help a single mom who is living in a motel with groceries and a generous gift card for essentials.

  • We gave a young homeless gentleman a full tank of gas and a cart full of items from Family Dollar.

  • We gave coffee and donuts to dozens of our friends on the street.

  • We helped a woman from the shelter with a full tank of gas and needed medical supplies.

  • We made a large delivery of warm blankets and a few essentials to our friends at the bridge.

  • We received our first call for help from someone who is battling addiction to prescription medication.

  • We held a super successful shelter hair cutting event, where we served over 50 individuals.

  • We filled up our Blessings Bin for our friends who are currently experiencing homelessness.

  • We brought fresh fruit for a mom and her son who are currently living in a motel.

  • We prevented probable homelessness for a woman from Evergreen Park.

  • We paid a cell phone bill for a friend from the shelter in hopes that he will receive a call for employment.

  • We paid for hearing aid molds for a friend from the shelter.

  • We helped a friend from the streets with food and a needed car repair.

  • We had an AMAZINGLY successful 4th birthday, raising close to EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS.

  • We began a partnership with a local halfway house and recovery home for men recovering from drug and/or alcohol addition - and our newest program, Loaves and Fishes was born.

  • We held a Naloxone training seminar for 12 friends from the shelter.

  • We helped a friend with a week’s worth of groceries and some new gym shoes.

  • We helped a grieving mother lay her only child to rest.

  • We filled bus passes for a couple from the shelter for an entire month so they could travel to the shelter sites.

  • We loved on a woman going through a difficult season by taking care of a few of her most important bills.

  • We assisted a veteran with his electric bill.

  • We helped a single mother stay in her home and provided the family with a few essentials.

  • We were able to surprise an Almost Home client with a BRAND NEW stove and dryer.

  • We were able to give Dr. Shaw from Palos Orthodontics two huge bags of essentials for his mission trip to Guatemala.

  • We gifted a local grandmother a brand new recliner to help keep her comfortable as she recovers from breast cancer surgery.

  • We gave a special friend a backpack filled to the brim with love.

  • We gave out dozens of donuts and cups of coffee to our friends on the street.

  • We helped a friend from the shelter with gas assistance and a gift card to Kohl’s for a few new outfits.

  • We were able to get a friend paired up with an AMAZING dentist so that she can receive the gift of a full set of dentures - and regain her self-confidence and health.

  • We were able to get groceries delivered to two families who desperately needed help.

  • We helped two friends from the street with a tank of gas each.

  • We received generous donations from American Legion Post 854, St. Rita High School, and Bimba Manufacturing.

  • We were able to assist a local man with one month's rent, preventing possible homelessness.

  • We helped an AH friend and supporter purchase one month's worth of medication that she needs to keep her heart ticking.

  • We came together to help a friend from the street with a much needed car repair.

  • We helped a friend pay his portion of rent, preventing him from having to go back to the bridge.

  • We took a new friend to a salon, where she received a few hours of pampering.

  • We were able to purchase a gently used bicycle for a man who is currently experiencing homelessness.

  • We held a SUPER successful bridge clean-up. In just two hours, we collected 50 bags of litter!

  • Provide a full tank of gas for an elderly woman who lives out of her car.

  • Help a friend from the street with month of bus passes.

  • Help a local family avoid an electricity disconnection.

  • Purchase a new bed, box spring and bedding for a friend that found a new home.

  • We restocked our Loaves and Fishes closet at Guildhaus.

  • We assisted a family with their rent payment, preventing homelessness.

  • We held our first worship service under the bridge - and it was incredibly moving. Please joins us as we do it all over again on June 15th at 6pm.

  • And the best news of all? Just last night, our amazing Patty got a friend from the street off to detox. We haven't heard anything, and that's a good thing. Usually no news is good news. Let's all pray that he sees the next few days thru, and continues into a rehab center. ♥️




Guildhaus Loaves and Fishes Surprise!

Almost Home Drug Prevention Program Director, Patty Ellison, has been working closely with Guildhaus -2413 Canal Street, Blue Island, IL 60406 for the past few months.

Guildhaus is a local recovery home and halfway house for men in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Recently, we opened our very first Loaves and Fishes closet inside Guildhaus, and it has made a huge difference for the residents. Here at Almost Home, we don't judge, and we believe that everyone matters. Bringing small comforts to those who are grinding it out day after day is what we do.

Noticing that the guys didn't have a lot to do activity-wise, Patty partnered with Tom (pictured with both boxes) from Chi-Town Custom Cornhole Boards to create these one-of-a-kind beauties for the residents to play some bags.

Please - if you are looking into a set - this is the place to go.

SIde note: We are always looking for sponsors for our Loaves and Fishes closets - if you are that way inclined, setting up a donation drive would really help keep us stocked. In this location, there are around 10 new residents arriving each month, generally with little more than the clothes on their backs.

A little love goes a long way ❤

#becauseeveryoneneedshelpsometimes #almosthomechicago #loavesandfishes #loveourneighbor

Tom of Chi-Town Custom Cornhole Boards with the beautifully crafted set for our friends at Guildhaus

Tom of Chi-Town Custom Cornhole Boards with the beautifully crafted set for our friends at Guildhaus

CNN Heroes 2019 - We Have Nominated Sarah!

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.

Respectfully,
Lara Batchelor, President
Almost Home Chicago, Inc.

Big THANKS!!

BIG THANKS to our friends over at C.H. Robinson for their generous donation of over $1,800!

Every year the company picks a few non-profits to partner up with. Almost Home was one of five, thanks to Missy Hollis Evans' nomination. The Robinson team and staff held various fundraising events such as Go Fund Me pages, change drives and a bake sale.

We truly appreciate their efforts for supporting our mission to help the poor, needy, homeless and broken. Together we ARE DOING great things! Why? #becauseeveryoneneedshelpsometimes

Helping the 'most broken' of the Southland's homeless

Almost Home had an exciting opportunity to bring Donna Vickroy of the Daily Southtown to visit some of the friends we help who reside under one of the area bridges. Donna wrote a feature article about her visit. The article was published on May 19, 2017, and can be read here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/opinion/ct-sta-vickroy-homeless-bridges-st-0522-20170515-story.html

Noahs Ark Pre-school donation driver. January 2017

BIG THANKS to Christina Palazzolo and our friends at Noah's Ark Pre-school for doing a super successful donation drive for Almost Home. All that you see here will be handed out at our upcoming hair cutting event on January 28th. We are also sharing with two local families that have fallen on hard times. Why? Because everyone needs help sometimes. Everyone.

Blessing Bags 12-24-16

So very proud of my friends. Last night they delivered over 50 bookbags filled with blessings to those currently experiencing homelessness in the Downtown Chicagoland area.

Their daughters came up with the initial idea, and were part of the entire process; from collecting donations to filling the bags and then passing them out directly to those in need.

Because of YOUR generous donations, Almost Home was able to contribute a large amount of items to go in the bags.

Thank you for helping them to do GREAT things. Why? #becauseeveryoneneedshelpsometimes