Nov 18, 2012 / 01:04 pm (CNA).- In mid-October, Teresa Widman did not know where she was going to sleep, or what she was going to eat. Her diabetes was out of control, and her blood sugar was sky high.
Things looked bleak, and she didn’t see how they would get any better.
Homeless since 2008, she had stayed in shelters in Chicago and other cities before finding her way to the House of Mary and Joseph, a homeless shelter on West Harrison Street operated by Franciscan Outreach. There, she can get dinner in the evening, breakfast in the morning and a bed in between.
Since she can sign up to come back when she leaves in the morning, she has a plastic bin to leave clothing and other possessions in during the day. And with the case management help of Darlene Bell, she has been able to see a doctor, get insulin to regulate her blood sugar and make a plan for dealing with her other health issues.
“I love it to death here,” she said. “Everybody’s friendly. They’ve already really helped me. I’ve been in a lot of homeless shelters, and I can tell this is a good place.”
Now Bell is talking about the next step for Widman: maybe getting her into Franciscan Outreach’s interim housing program, where she wouldn’t have to sign up every day for a bed and would be able to stay in the shelter during the day, doing volunteer work and preparing herself to be successful with a job; or maybe going back to Texas, where she has family.
“One thing I know I want,” Widman said in an interview in Bell’s office. “I want a key of my own, to my own place.”
Franciscan Outreach has been offering direct services to poor people since Franciscan Father Philip Marquard established it in 1963, said Diana Faust, the current executive director. He thought it would be an outlet for secular Franciscans — lay men and women like Faust — to offer service.
The non-profit organization maintains many Franciscan ties, including offering case management services out of St. Peter’s in the Loop and having several Franciscan volunteers, but it welcomes help from anybody, and is open to serving all. …
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