A History of Deborah’s Place: An Organization Serving Women Who Are Homeless or Formally Homeless in Chicago
(10/1/2000 – 11/30/2002)
Since its founding in 1985, Deborah’s Place has provided shelter, food, resources, and support to women in Chicago who are homeless or formerly homeless. Following its mission to provide services “so that women can become empowered to take back and maintain control over their lives,” Deborah’s Place has achieved an impressive track record by providing a continuum of programs and services which range from basic needs to permanent supportive housing. It has been the lifeline for women who, for any number of reasons, lack the fundamental resources for sustaining basic needs and achieving a better quality of life. Over three thousand women have benefited from the programs and services of Deborah’s Place.
Deborah’s Place received recognition for its far-reaching impact on homelessness at the Sara Lee Foundation Chicago Spirit Award ceremony in May, 2000. In addition to the $100,000 award, the Foundation provided support for a collaborative research project between Deborah’s Place and the Loyola University Chicago Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL). The project chosen was a history of the organization’s first fifteen years.
Listening to the voices of current and former participants, staff, volunteers, and board members, this report attempts to capture the essence of the relationships of those women who built or participated in Deborah’s Place. The qualitative research was conducted between January and July, 2001. Over that period of time, thirty-nine persons were interviewed. Fifteen were individual in-depth interviews, while the remainder was part of focus groups. In some cases, individuals participated in a focus group and were interviewed separately. We also relied on the guidance of an additional fifteen women who met with the researchers to provide background information at the beginning of the project.
- L. Von Dreele, CURL
- G. Montgomery, Graduate Fellow, School of Education
- P. Crowley, Deborah’s Place
- A. Thomas, Deborah’s Place
- K. Wilson, Deborah’s Place