Adriana grew up in Chicago. She's lived in different neighborhoods across the north side and currently calls Lincoln Park home. “Everywhere I’ve ever lived, I’ve found a home spot that has been a resource to me.” For Adriana, that place is now Marillac St. Vincent Family Services.
She chose Lincoln Park to ensure her daughters had access to a great high school. When she experienced some financial challenges, she searched for local resources and found Marillac St. Vincent just around the corner from her daughters’ school. In a time of need, the food pantry and thrift store helped her manage her expenses. “A lot of people have issues asking for help, or they get embarassed. Every time I’ve been here, I’ve always felt like – they make me feel good. It makes me feel good to come here.”
In March of this year, Adriana’s family was impacted by COVID-19. Right as she was preparing to start a new job, her mother contacted her to let her know her father had the coronavirus. Adriana and her mother subsequently contracted the virus. Despite a hospital stay that delayed her beginning work, she continued her education online.
Adriana’s father passed away on March 31. As she was recovering from the virus, Adriana had to plan her father’s funeral. The expense depleted her family’s savings.
Adriana was caught in a trap: she had to stay home to recover and quarantine, so she couldn’t work; but because she had not been laid off, she didn’t qualify for unemployment assistance. Her daughters, who would have helped in ordinary circumstances, were laid off from their jobs during the shelter-in-place orders.
Knowing her situation wasn’t unique, she called to ask about resources. Tramaine in Community Outreach Services answered the phone and they talked. While she was safe from eviction, Adriana knew her rent wouldn’t be forgiven. With Tramaine’s help, she applied for rental assistance and had her name added to Marillac St. Vincent’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
The COVID-19 Relief Fund at MSV was created to offer direct support to those hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic. Nearly $400,000 were raised, and 100% of the funds were distributed in the form of weekly gift cards directly to families – families like Adriana’s.
With the support of the fund, Adriana was able to continue making payments on her rent. “I knew that with that money, I wasn’t going to lose my apartment. So, Marillac St. Vincent to me means hope. It’s a little bit of hope.”
As Adriana continues her physical recovery, she is busy at school and helping her family heal from the loss they suffered. “There were days I was in the hospital taking 8-hour classes. I was logged in on my phone hearing lectures on my phone, but I did it. I pulled through and finished the the first class.” She completed certifications in phlebotomy and nursing assistance and is now working towards a third certification as a dialysis technician.
She believes her father is watching over her, and she feels his spririt encouraging her to keep going. However, she knows that it’s not always easy to do it alone, and Adriana is grateful for the support of her Marillac St. Vincent family. “As much as you want to be this strong person, sometimes you have to reach out. Because there are people out there that genuinely want to help.”
Watch Adriana tell her story here.
Adriana is not alone. Thousands of Chicagoans are suffered devastating losses at the hands of COVID-19 and those numbers only continue to rise. Take action today to help Chicagoans like Adriana.