An essay by Sean Guza: God forbid, but it can happen to anyone

From left, Jim Picchetti, CCH: Bernie Bohlman, The Harbor; Sean Guza, Independence Center; and State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge).

Community Organizer Jim Picchetti traveled to Springfield Tuesday with two new leaders from Lake County, Sean Guza and Bernie Bohlman. CCH and our allies have been meeting with legislators to thank them for voting in May to restore state funding to emergency shelters, youth programs and homeless prevention grants for families.

Sean is a member of the Independence Center in Waukegan, a rehabilitation program for people with mental illness. Jim asked Sean why he is passionate about educating our legislators on why the state shouldn’t cut vital programs and services for the homeless, and this is what Sean wrote: 


I was 23 and just out of college. I was making good money, had a killer apartment in downtown Oak Park, and a special woman in my life.

I was 27  and recently diagnosed with ‘early adult on-set’ Bipolar disorder, presenting with schizo-affective tendencies. I was ‘self-medicating using drugs and alcohol. I lost the job and income, the apartment, and more importantly my friends and that special woman.

From left, Jim Picchetti, Bernie Bohlman, State Sen. Terry Link (D-Lincolnshire), and Sean Guza.

I was 38, homeless and in and out of PADS shelter sites. I had been in and out of several psycho-social rehabilitation programs. I had been in and out of more psychiatric wards that I can honestly count. I had been in and out of low rent motel rooms.

I was 44 and I had been living in a long-term psychiatric nursing home for over two years.

I am now 46. I am 46 and because of Illinois’  Human Services and Homeless Prevention/Treatment Programs, I am living in a wonderful one bedroom apartment of my dreams, working and volunteering part-time and sober for nearly four years!

Do we honestly need to continue funding homeless prevention programs?

Do we honestly need to continue funding emergency shelter programs?

Do we honestly need to continue funding transitional and permanent housing programs?

Yes we do! And with help from organizations such as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, my voice is heard in Springfield and D.C.!