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CHIL Spotlight: An update on Marcus!

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Last summer we introduced you to Marcus, a resident at CHIL who moved out of our campus in August 2022 (read his interview here).

We are happy to share an update on how Marcus is doing almost one year later - now 22 years old, working full-time, and living in his own apartment!

“When I left CHIL the first time, my plans fell through. But when I came back to CHIL last summer, that was my second chance. And it was cool to have a second chance. When I came back and tried again… it was that time that I was able to manage my life the way I wanted and stay focused and keep trying.”

Thinking about what was different about his second stay at CHIL, Marcus says “I had to learn rules and boundaries were set for a reason, and I still apply those now that I have my own apartment”.

Today, Marcus is a happy tenant in his own studio apartment on the north side, rented through the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Paying his rent on time is a top priority for Marcus, “I always make sure I’m staying on top of my rent, it’s always the bill I pay first. I’ve only been late once, when I was in between jobs and so I picked up some shifts with a food delivery service to make sure that bill was paid”.

Marcus works at the Night Ministry as a Peer Outreach Professional. He started as a volunteer on the Youth Outreach Team before accepting the full-time position. His lived experience makes him especially great in his role: “Now that I have a job helping those who are in similar situations as I was, it has really amplified my passion for helping those in need. I just want to help folks when I see them in similar situations to what I was in because I know it can get better”.

As a Peer Advocate, Marcus helps individuals get homelessness verification cards, medical care, and substance use treatment and resources. He provides food, clothing, tents, sleeping bags and hygiene supplies to unhoused individuals throughout Chicago. “I do a lot of listening when I’m reaching out to people,” says Marcus. “I make a point to hear them and understand their situation so I can try and find the best resources to help them.”

CHIL helped Marcus with gift cards and clothing when he first started work. Marcus recalls Camille (CHIL’s Education & Employment Specialist) being a constant, helpful reminder for him to stay on top of responsibilities; "Her calls and text reminders really meant a lot to me as motivations to keep going, knowing ‘I gotta get this done’. More than that, it meant so much to know that if I fall down, I have a place [CHIL] that will pick me up.”

Marcus still visits CHIL from time to time, “Over the past year, if there were times I didn’t have food I came to CHIL for canned goods and pantry foods. It means so much knowing I have a place to fall back on and when I come here that I have someone to talk to and that can help problem solve if issues arise”.

Outside of working full-time, staying on top of his bills and the upkeep in his own apartment, Marcus says he’s “living his best life”. He goes to the gym four times a week and in his free time catches up on sleep and does a little bit of cooking. Over the past year, Marcus has reconnected with his family in Mississippi and spent the Holidays there last December.

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