Posted by StreetWise in From The Director
Thank you for picking up this special edition of StreetWise Magazine. I am happy and excited to share with you the good work that StreetWise has been doing so far in 2011. StreetWise has been serving Chicagoans in need for almost 20 years. I remember back in 1992 when StreetWise first started providing social services and the newspaper went on sale. I admired the StreetWise workforce model from the beginning and over the years I have only become more impressed by the agency’s success in accomplishing its mission, the dedication of its staff, and the commitment of its board of directors. I was honored. When, in January 2011, the board entrusted me with the responsibility of leading such a critical and well run organization.
Since stepping into the role of Executive Director last January, I have been energized by the men and women who come to our office every day. All these individuals have two things in common: First and foremost each has a desire to work. Second, they each have a need to access the fundamental services and supports that will help them to move themselves from crisis to stability.
Now more than ever, StreetWise serves as a critical safety net for those living beneath the poverty line. According to the 2010 Report on Illinois Poverty, released by the Social IMPACT Research Center of Heartland Alliance, 11.8 percent of Chicago area residents (983,744 persons) are living in poverty while another 15.2 percent (1,267,381 persons) are at risk of falling into poverty. Citing the stagnant employment rate, the report states that 52 percent of individuals living in extreme poverty are not expected to find stable employment quickly. The Center Director, Amy Rynell, points out the disturbing fact that even those with part-time employment, “are not able to make ends meet, and they’re making untenable choices each day between food or paying rent, food or medicine.”
Happily, StreetWise is going strong. We expect to successfully serve close to 500 new clients this year, which will be an increase of 100 from 2010. The agency also has many exciting initiatives and successes which are detailed throughout the magazine. These include:
• The move of the StreetWise office to a more accessible and cost effective location.
• The expansion of client services through key agency collaborations.
• The development of new workforce models to expand the employment opportunities offered by StreetWise.
The long-term success of StreetWise as an agency comes from you, our supporters. Whether you donate directly, buy the magazine regularly, or do both, your support is critical to providing Chicago’s neediest men and women with a dignified opportunity for stabilizing their lives. StreetWise is committed to providing “a hand up not a hand out,” and with your continued support the agency will do so for many years to come.
StreetWise Executive Director
1 – The report is available at http://www.heartlandalliance.org/whatwedo/advocacy/reports/2010-report-on-illinois-poverty-final.pdf