The Return of the Justice Circle

  • CCH Law Project staff members pose for camera
  • CCH Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg & Homeless Youth Advocate, Jajuana Walker
By Michael Nameche, Director of Development

On May 9, supporters and allies of CCH’s Law Project gathered for the Justice Circle reception at the law offices of Baker McKenzie. The event celebrated the 20th anniversary of Youth Futures, CCH’s mobile legal aid clinic for young people experiencing homelessness.  

This was the first time that the Justice Circle has held an in-person event since 2019, and CCH is very grateful for all the returning support. Contributions from law firms, banks, and individuals raised over $60,000 to support the Law Project’s work. A list of our sponsors can be found here.  

At the event, some special recognition awards were presented. CCH recognized Baker McKenzie’s commitment to helping youth experiencing homelessness nationwide. The firm’s ongoing commitment to authoring Homeless Youth Handbooks has produced a critical resource in 13 states already, with more on the way. Baker McKenzie also partners with the National Network for Youth through their Justice in Action Pro Bono Initiative, which removes barriers that youth experiencing homelessness face when accessing identification documents. Firm partner Michael Lehrman accepted the award on Baker McKenzie’s behalf.  

CCH also recognized the ongoing efforts of Jajuana Walker, a former Law Project client and homeless youth advocate. Jajuana took her own personal struggles with housing insecurity, first experiencing homelessness at the age 18, and channeled her courage and wisdom into advocating to end housing discrimination and youth homelessness in Chicago. Jajuana fought against multiple barriers to housing access by serving as a plaintiff in successful housing discrimination and fair credit cases with CCH. 

Associate Director of the Law Project, Beth Malik, had this to say when presenting the award to Jajuana: “I had the privilege of working with Jajuana on both her housing and fair credit cases. The litigation was long, complicated, and mentally and emotionally taxing. During the process, despite many ups and downs over the course of 3 years, she never wanted to give up. She wanted to keep going not for herself, but to make sure that other homeless young people have better access to stable and long-term housing.” 

CCH is especially grateful to our event host, Baker McKenzie, for providing their fabulous space and handling all the event details so CCH could spend the evening focusing on the community of support that showed up. 

We are stronger together: CCH raises over $127K on Giving Tuesday thanks to 537 individual donors and our generous matching gift partners 

The staff and volunteers of CCH are overwhelmed with gratitude for the enthusiastic support offered this past Giving Tuesday. Over 500 generous people contributed to CCH during this annual celebration of giving.   

CCH is grateful to longtime supporters Robert Pasin & Muriel Quinn, Revolution Brewing, and Metropolitan Capital Bank for donating a collective $42,500 in matching funds.  

John Carruthers, Director of Communications for Revolution Brewing, had this reflection on Giving Tuesday: “This year has opened a lot of eyes on how many of our neighbors go without a warm, safe place to rest. Revolution is proud to support the work that CCH does, and the incredible generosity of their donors is something that continues to give us hope. We’re glad we could help amplify the voices of the individual donors whose giving does so much for Chicagoans affected by homelessness.” 

CCH recruited 30 staff, Board members, and Associate Board members to follow their lead and become Giving Tuesday Ambassadors, spreading news of CCH’s work and enlisting peers to invest in our advocacy.  

Michael Rose, Chairman & CEO of Metropolitan Capital shared, “At Metropolitan Capital, we too believe in strength through community. Our team is grateful to have been a small part in the collaborative efforts to raise critical funds for CCH this Giving Tuesday, and we are proud to continue supporting their mission to build inclusive, hospitable communities – together.” 

Ambassador Work

Ambassadors employed all types of creative tactics to call attention to CCH’s impact. Development Director Michael Nameche thanked his personal network of supporters throughout the day with covers of rock albums with googly-eyes added. Director of Communications Vanessa Álvarez punctuated the day with short videos to demonstrate what she had learned about the issue of homelessness since coming to work at CCH. Sophie Babcock, Associate Board Vice President of Events, returned to be an ambassador for the seventh straight year, gathering an impressive 31 donations in 24 hours.   

Sophie had this to say about the experience: “I can’t think of a better organization to support on Giving Tuesday, a day that comes during many Americans comfortably putting up holiday decor in their homes and eating leftovers with family. Each year I remind my network how lucky they are to be in this position, and each year I am humbled by the outpouring of support.” 

Thank you to everyone who made contributions of any size to CCH on Giving Tuesday. We often like to say that we are stronger together, and this Giving Tuesday is one more example of that collective power to make change.  

Cheers! For Systemic Change

11 years ago, the Associate Board of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless was trying to brainstorm a name for their newest fundraising event, a guest bartending night.  “The prevailing joke was, we needed to come up with a better name than my first suggestion: Carousing for Housing,” remembers current Board Secretary, Shane Hopkin.  Eventually, the name Cheers for Change was suggested.  “We were celebrating systemic change, not your spare coins,” explains CCH’s Director of Development, Michael Nameche.  

Continue reading Cheers! For Systemic Change

National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week: A reflection from Associate Board President Sara Szwankowski

In recognition of National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, CCH is sharing reflections from people who work with us – interns, board, and associate board members – writing about what inspires their work. 

Today’s essay is written by Associate Board President Sara Szwankowski.

Sara (right) with Holly O’Hern, former AB President

Hi! I’m Sara Szwankowski, a member of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Associate Board. I have been a member since 2016, serving a few roles during my time on the board. I began as a general member, moved into leadership roles with the exec committee, and am currently serving a second term as President of the Associate Board.

Continue reading National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week: A reflection from Associate Board President Sara Szwankowski