On Friday September 17th and Sunday September 19th Food For Friends had the opportunity to serve a new group of people at the Men’s facility St Leonard’s Ministries and at the Women’s facility Grace House.
Saint Leonard’s empowers formerly incarcerated men and women to lead whole and productive lives. Saint Leonard’s serves formerly incarcerated community members largely from the South and West Side of Chicago. The majority of participants identify as people of color, have multiple arrests and incarcerations, and have faced homelessness. Saint Leonard’s Ministries was established in 1954 by Father James Jones, Chaplain at what is now Chicago’s Cook County Jail. Father Jones recognized that individuals returning to our community following incarceration faced a multitude of serious challenges that impeded the path towards a stable, productive life. Since its opening in 1994, the Grace House residential program has provided interim housing, emotional and spiritual support, and professional counseling to women who are exiting the Illinois prison system. Services are provided in a warm setting located on the Near West Side of Chicago. Residents are encouraged to set goals for the future and are taught how to make informed choices that will empower them to lead lives with dignity in their communities and their families.
On Friday we were able to serve about 13 women. This women’s facility can house up to 20 women. During this time we were able to take a tour of the facility and learn more about the wonderful doings of this organization. I was able to speak to some of the women and see how the program was helping them. This program provide life skills in order for the women to prepare for the real world. Some of the programs include job readiness classes, culinary classes, construction classes, resume building, computer classes, and it is also an accredited high school so they are able to get their diplomas.
On Sunday we were able to serve about 10-12 of the men.
The men’s facility can house up to 40 men. During this time we were also able to take a tour and learn about the different programs that were being offered for the residences. This was a great opportunity and
everyone was so appreciative. I was so humbled doing this serving event and I believe the other volunteers were as well. I look forward to working with this organization again.