Pickled Hysteria

Feb 20, 2015
Brett Palmer headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

On a frigid January evening, I, along with other members of my church, decided to donate time to serving a hot meal to people planning to spend their night sleeping on a childlike cot in a warm, temperature controlled Salvation Army homeless shelter. I have no idea what to expect on a night like this. So many misperceptions of homeless people that had been drilled into my brain throughout my life were reappearing in my consciousness yet again. “Are they gonna take my money? Where are my keys?” Confused, nervous and skeptical, I begin to wonder why I’m here.

Marilyn Escoe and her children — Kayla, Kyla and Kyle Escoe and Kaleyah Wesley — were homeless until November.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

For Kaleyah Wesley, thoughts of her family’s life in a Chicago homeless shelter made it difficult to focus on school, particularly in math, the subject she found hardest.

The then-sixth-grader woke at 5 a.m. on weekdays to take a pair of trains from the north side Rogers Park shelter to her school in the North Lawndale neighborhood, which is on the west side. She says she had a negative attitude that rubbed off on her three younger siblings.

Darrell Hoemann/ Midwest Center For Investigative Reporting

  Food pantries and homeless shelters say they're beginning to notice repercussions of a reduction in food stamps that will take effect Fri., Nov. 1. A temporary hike in benefits that kicked as a result of the recession expires this week.

Individuals enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could see their benefits cut by $11 a month. A family of four could see a decrease of $36.

The project, founded by Ann Libri, started simple by collected clothing and school supplies for students growing up in unstable environments. This year, the project is kicking off a pilot program with ten students that will teach life skills and provide meals, tutoring, school supplies, and clothing. Libri says she hopes the project will continue to grow and assist the hundreds of homeless children in Springfield's district 186.

We recently interviewed Libri, and the Springfield city treasurer, Jim Langfedler, who is also an advisor to the project: 

Christiana Glover at the homeless shelter within Contact Ministries in Springfield.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Quintina Honorable is 18 years old and says she’s “not as homeless” as she was at age 16, but she’s moved at least six times since leaving her mother’s house in Springfield.

“I’m homeless, but I dress myself in a way to where I don’t look that way,” Honorable says. “You don’t let your weaknesses define you.”

She currently lives in a Springfield apartment with a few other people, but she only has half of her clothes. The rest are stored elsewhere just in case her new roommates don’t work out.