Part of our History: Chicago, our home

Here in Chicago our life continues largely as it has for the last several years. Francine, at 83, still volunteers at a local hospital twice a week and participates in various activities for seniors. Olga has been working at a public library for the last 8 years but they are talking about closing her library... Cathy has been working at a company that sells fruit and vegetables wholesale for the last 6 years.

A party at our parishA party at our parish

We feel very blessed to still have our jobs when so many have lost theirs because of the economy. Our lifestyle certainly shelters us from some of the worst. We have no loans or credit problems, no children, no spouses or partners who drain our resources without our knowledge. We don't deal with alcoholism, drugs, abuse or violence in our home. But these are the things that many of our friends and neighbors are constantly dealing with. As I write this I can see the drug dealing out our window. They are often young people we have known as children - or people grown old too soon from its effects. With the drugs and gangs comes the violence which has claimed the lives of 6 teenagers in the city in just the last week.

On our block there are 23 buildings standing. Six of these are empty and boarded up. There are also 22 empty lots where buildings used to be... long gone mostly. The land stands empty, often collecting weeds and trash. The one next to where we live allows space for a garden which we began about 10 years ago, providing vegetables and a little space of beauty. Many of the neighbors do what they can to plant a few flowers and make the area more livable. There are, of course, all sorts of initiatives at many levels, some that even work, but we speak of the everyday level.

Francine and neighbourFrancine and neighbour

Compared to the situations that many of you live, Chicago would probably seem like a garden. For those of us who have been here a long time, it is simply home. In the midst of the brokenness there is life and friendship and caring for one another, people trying to make it, going to work or looking for work... many gestures of goodness and kindness. Our parish community is an anchor in the community as well as for us.