Thirty years ago a group of interfaith people, led by the newly ordained the Rev. Phyllis Mueller, began McHenry County’s first shelter for women and children.
To celebrate that event, Home of the Sparrow will hold a 30th anniversary gala April 29 at San Filippo Estate in Barrington Hills.
Home of the Sparrow became a registered 501(c)3 non-profit homeless shelter in 1987. Today, HOS offers more than shelter. Programs include a Short-term transitional housing program, a subsidized housing program, a rapid rehousing program, 19 units of affordable housing, and an outreach and prevention program.
Home of the Sparrow also has six thrift stores in the following municipalities: McHenry, Cary, Algonquin, Palatine, Mundelein, and Third Lake.
Transitional housing provides nine dorm-style rooms and access to shared space for cooking, dining, and relaxing. The homes average 29 people a day throughout the year. Most people stay less than five months and transition into permanent housing. From July 1 2016 through Feb. 28, 2017, HOS served 33 women and 44 children.
Subsidized housing provides homes to families that need a little help transitioning to independence. This program provided skill-building opportunities and apartments to four women and four children during the reporting period.
Rapid re-housing serves families that have employment but find themselves is a situation that puts them in jeopardy, like the death of a spouse or a serious illness. Rapid re-housing served 22 women and 35 children between last July and the end of February.
Affordable housing is available for those who earn 50 percent or less of the median McHenry County Income. HOS has 23 units of affordable housing. Between July of last year and the end of February, HOS housed 25 women and 43 children.
Outreach and prevention helps homeless women and children stabilize and find safe housing. The program also connects women to services such as emergency food, health services, transportation, legal services, and mediation with landlords. This program helped 134 women and 189 children. The program also provided 565 phone referrals and 15 Sparrow Nest clothing vouchers.
Some women experiencing homelessness face the additional challenges of a history of trauma, including domestic violence, mental illness, or substance abuse. HOS offers programs and services that are “trauma informed” and modeled on evidence-based interventions and supports.
HOS provides more than Housing. The programs are designed to strengthen and empower women to develop the life skills they need. Programs include help finding and keeping jobs that pay a living wage, setting realistic goals, continuing their education, learning good parenting skills, and developing and keeping a budget.
The Nest thrift stores offer free furniture, houseware, lighting, books, and toys to their clients. Anyone can buy used stores at the Nests, which helps fund HOS. All items are acquired by donation. The Nests began a textile and metal recycling program in 2011, so nothing donated goes to waste.
The gala event begins with a self-guided tour of the “Place de la Musique,” as the Philippo mansion is known. The site is recognized around the world for its antiques, music machines, carousels, and more. Auction, butler served hors d’oeuvres, speakers, and dinner follow the tour. Many of the founding mothers will be in attendance. For more information visit the event page, HOSparrow.org or call (815) 271-5444, Ext. 62.