Emerge: Achieving Self-sufficiency

William’s parents died when he was young, forcing him to live house-to-house for years. He eventually found two years of consistent shelter at the Pacific Garden Mission in the South Loop. When he found out that he had a daughter on the way, William knew that he needed to get his life and career on-track, starting with a safe, inviting place for his daughter.

He learned about Kids Above All’s Emerge Program, which helps homeless young adults achieve self-sufficiency, by overhearing two men on the “L.” He made sure to write down Kids Above All’s number and called to set up an interview with Kim Jackson, a Kds Above All Emerge case worker.

William entered the program in May of 2015. He was a high school graduate and had a full-time job at Sam’s Club, but knew there was little opportunity for advancement. Kim told him about a program that would help him obtain his security license and encouraged him to take classes.

William regularly attended Emerge’s monthly meetings, building a support network of other young adults and receiving training in crucial life skills such as financial literacy and money management. At one meeting he learned the importance of establishing checking and savings accounts to stabilize both his and his daughter’s financial futures. He turned to Kim for help in setting them up and has been an avid saver ever since.

Having a safe apartment of his own also led to increased time with his daughter, Natalie. William became the first Emerge father to enroll his daughter in Kids Above All’s 0-3 early childhood program, PEP, ensuring that she will reach important educational and developmental milestones and be ready for kindergarten. He enjoys reading to Natalie often, strengthening their bond and building her vocabulary.

William achieved his security certifications and held two part-time security jobs. He then decided to enter a culinary program and is now a full-time barbecue chef at a restaurant in downtown Chicago.

William is on-track to complete the Emerge Program very soon, having employment and saving enough money for an apartment of his own.

“The Emerge Program is a blessing,” said William. “It has given me the stability and support that I needed to improve my life, and I can’t thank Kim enough for helping me to be a better man and father!”

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