CHICAGO (CBS) — No bed, no shelter. It’s the same story over and over again for more than 2,000 homeless women in Chicago, but the non-profit Sarah’s Circle is working to eliminate homelessness one woman at a time.
June Merritt is celebrating four years since she was forced to live on the streets. She’s found a home in a permanent apartment at Sarah’s Cirlce.
Sarah’s Circle was started by three women in Uptown in the 1970s, when they rented an apartment to get women off the streets during the day.
The growing agency is now in its 40th year, providing a safe refuge for women in need of housing and life necessities.
“It’s been a relief. When you’re in a situation of being homeless, you have a lot of weights on you, and you tend to worry; what you’re going to eat, how you’re going to wash your clothes,” Merritt said.
Merritt became homeless after taking care of her parents and losing all her money. She’s one of nearly 800 women Sarah’s Circle helps every year.
Chef Lee Moore runs the kitchen at Sarah’s Circle, making sure everyone gets a meal.
“We serve bag lunches every Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays,” he said. “The majority of this stuff is donated.”
Who is allowed in?
“Any woman. We have no barriers. Anybody that identifies as a woman. We have no barriers to our services, and in this daytime program we have women from every zip code. And if a bed is open in our 50-bed program, it’s filled immediately” executive director Kathy Ragnar said.
Ragnar’s role will soon be expanding. Thanks to a generous donation. Sarah’s Circle broke ground earlier this year on a new facility.
“It’s life-changing, and seeing the impact of when we moved those women in upstairs, you just say ‘let’s do this again,’” she said.
The new space, called Sarah’s on Sheridan, will provide interim housing services and 35 units of additional permanent housing.
“I’m so excited for the new ladies that’s coming in. I know that they are going to have a safe, clean place to stay,” Merritt said.
Sixty percent of Sarah’s Circle’s budget comes from private donations. If you’d like to help, head to sarahs-circle.org.
They also accept donations of clothing; many of the women are in need of socks and underwear.