CHIL Youth Spotlight: Shauwnique & Linford
Updated: Jul 7
Shauwnique and Linford met as kids in Chicago. Over the years they lost touch as their paths took them to different sides of the country; Shauwnique went to Roosevelt School of the Arts in Fresno California while Linford attended the CHI Arts in Humboldt Park.
Shauwnique was in the final semester of college when she had to move back to Chicago from California. “I became homeless for the first time in my life the second semester of my senior year. I came back to stay with my dad, but he wasn’t in the best place mentally, so the homeless stuff interfered. I have college credits already, only 10 credits left to graduate. I was a really good student, but I became homeless and had to go to a household that wasn’t mentally healthy for me and had to drop out”.
Linford’s dad was a musician himself and is his inspiration to pursue his passion for music. His dad passed away when he was 12 years old, but he performs with his dad’s guitar to this day.
Shauwnique and Linfords’ paths crossed again one day while he was playing music in the subway. Linford recollects “She still looked as excited as she did when she was five”. Now 22 and 23 years old, their shared experiences bring them closer together. Shauwnique explains “We connect a lot about emotional and spiritual traumas we’ve gone through. We have a whole lot in common. Things I’ve had to do because I’ve basically been on my own since I was 17, other girls my age are shocked of. I’ve always had to do things a little different than most people”.
While pursuing their music endeavors, Shauwnie and Linford are also working to secure independent housing and full-time employment. They heard about Covenant House Illinois from a friend who stays at The Crib and began taking advantage of drop-in services shortly thereafter. On cold afternoons in January, they visit CHIL’s Youth Development Center to receive a hot meal, take a warm shower, and meet with CHIL Staff to develop measurable action plans to help them achieve their goals. Shauwnie has regularly scheduled meetings with Camille, CHIL’s Education and Employment Specialist, who is helping her update her resume, apply to jobs, and get back onto the path to independence.
Since opening in fall 2021, CHIL’s new Youth Development Center has increased capacity and enhanced services to provide resources to so many more young people in Shauwnie and Linford's situation. “We are so inspired by the resilience of the young people who come to CHIL, the hard work they put in to reach their goals and all of their incredible achievements” says Amy Laird, Director of Programs.
Make a donation to CHIL today and give young people like Shauwnie and Linford the opportunities they need to follow their own dreams, wherever they may take them.