Brenda proudly worked as a realtor in Chicago and the Western Suburbs for eleven years. During that time she helped many first-time buyers find the home of their dreams and enjoyed helping people make decisions that were good for them and their families.
In 2006, she felt overwhelmed and Brenda walked away from everything she knew, including her housing, and began sleeping on commuter trains as she drifted toward greater uncertainty in her life. While on the train, a police officer noticed her and brought Brenda to Madden Mental Health Hospital where she was engaged by an outreach worker from Thresholds. The staff member asked what she needed and Brenda shared that she hoped for housing and an income since she had lost everything. After a short stay at Madden, Brenda moved into a transitional housing program and three months later into a supportive housing apartment operated by Thresholds in Rowan Trees Apartments.
While in Rowan Trees, Brenda participated in a support group and worked with a counselor on a self-guided path towards recovery. She tells it this way, “it was very helpful to have someone to talk to about what happened to me, and to process these events for myself and with the caring of others.”
Brenda explains that “Thresholds was supportive in every way. I may not have enough money in my pocket to financially help others though I want to help by fundraising for resources for people facing homelessness.”
One area of great importance to Brenda is changing the public perception regarding homelessness. “I want people to know that when someone is experiencing homelessness, something happened in their life that lead to this,” she said. “It is not because they are lazy; some kind of tragedy or trauma often leads to homelessness.”
In 2012 Brenda moved on from supportive housing and currently lives in another affordable unit on the West Side, not far from where she grew up. She recently graduated from CSHSpeakUp! and now tells her story as an advocate for more supportive housing, and to help others not feel alone in their struggles.
Brenda is an inspiration to all who meet her, and CSH salutes her for her courage in sharing such a powerful story of recovery.