Born to a large family with nine siblings, Patricia “Pat” Franklin understands the importance of working together so that everyone has what they need to thrive. A grandmother of three and self-described jokester, Pat aspires to make the world better for families like hers.
“Growing up, I never knew we were poor,” recalls Pat. “Sleeping three to a bed – I just thought that’s the way it was. My mother was always helping and taking people in. She taught me that there’s always someone else out there who is worse off than you.”
Today, Pat channels her mother’s generous spirit by serving as grassroots leader with CCH, leading advocacy efforts to support people experiencing homelessness.
“CCH is like my second family,” Pat said. “I just love being here and advocating. By sharing my story, I hope it helps the next family and prevents them from going through what I did.”
Nia Hill wants you to know that the West Side of Chicago has great people who do great things. Born and raised in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, she also understands first-hand the barriers that residents in these systemically marginalized communities face.
“A quick Google search tells you what you want to know,” said Nia on where she grew up, noting the prevalence of violence and poverty caused by institutional racism.
Nia’s family experienced homelessness when she was in high school after losing their Section 8 voucher. They “bounced around a lot” – staying with an aunt, people from church, and hotels before eventually settling into stable housing.
“It was a humbling experience,” she recalls, “learning how to do without a place you would normally consider home.”
Maxica and her three school-age children moved into their new home in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood last January. It has six bedrooms and a big backyard – perfect for making snow angels in the winter and leaf angels in the fall. The residential streets and proximity to parks offer ample space for family strolls with their new puppy, Roxy. And a nearby community garden provides fresh produce for cooking and eating together.
DeNaysa,16, is a bookworm. The salutatorian of her 8th grade class, the now high school sophomore enjoys band, choir, and volleyball. She is also learning how to drive. DeSera, 14, is a “momma’s girl,” – a natural caregiver and straight-A honors student. She loves choir and is a sprinter on her high school’s track and field team. DeVon, 13, is a talented athlete, playing basketball, football, softball, and volleyball. He likes turning his poetry into music, using skills learned from an After School Matters program.
“My kids are my heart and soul and the centers of my life,” said Maxica.
Mayra Fajardo recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She earned a double major in psychology and criminology/law, with a double minor in history and Spanish. Having navigated high school and college as an unaccompanied student, Mayra is passionate about using her skills and experiences to help others.
Born and raised in Chicago, Mayra moved with her family to Ecuador at 15. A year later, she made the difficult decision to return to Chicago alone to pursue better educational opportunities. Her goal? To provide hope and support for her mother and younger sister.
At the start of the pandemic, Shamaje Singleton, then 18, was unable to afford housing on his own. He bounced around Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, living doubled-up with various family members and sharing crowded hotel rooms with friends.
A month after turning 19, Shamaje received wonderful news: He had been accepted into the Solid Ground transitional living program at La Casa Norte. Shamaje instantly connected to the community living in the dorm-style building in Humboldt Park.
Daihana Estrada, a recent graduate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is no stranger to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. In fact, she has been involved with CCH for more than a decade, as a scholarship winner, an intern, an advocate, and a member of the scholarship selection committee.
She also recently raised $1,890 for CCH through an online fundraiser, garnering support from 65 people from around the world.
Today, Daihana is a first-year attorney, working as a judicial law clerk in Minnesota. Hers is a journey more than 12 years in the making.