I recently worked with MERCY Communities, Inc. on a community service project as part of a leadership development program in the City of Springfield. I was impressed with the passion and hardwork the staff members I worked with had to the organization's mission and service in the community. Our group was proud to work with MERCY Communities, Inc. Keep up the Great Work!!
I have been on the M.E.R.C.Y.'s Advisory Committee for approximately five years. I also have volunteered my services as a psychotherapist providing counseling to some of these women and children. During this time, I have watched this nonprofit organization that was set up to serve women grow exponentially in meeting the needs of women. It not only as expanded in terms of the numbers of women that it serves but has deepened its service to connect with these women holistically. It has been a joy to be a part of this excellent team of professionals providing a valuable service to our community. Carley Mattimore, MS, LCPC
My team and I worked closely with MERCY to help them potentially transform a space into a children's learning center. MERCY helps women and children daily and their commitment to these families is unique in our community. The space that we helped design would enhance children's experiences during their stay with MERCY. The organization is run smoothly and provides a truly sincere benefit to women and children.
I have been aquainted with M.E.R.C.Y. Communities for about 10 years; first as an employee and now as a community supporter. I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand the amazing opportunities that M.E.R.C.Y. can offer the young families that choose to participate in the program. M.E.R.C.Y. Communities provides support in all aspects of the participant's life. Through self-esteem, money management, parenting, and various other life skills classes, participants are able to embrace who they are and focus on areas of their life that they want to improve. While the participants work toward self-sufficiency, their children benefit from the safety and comfort of a stable positive environment in which to live and grow. Since I have been acquainted with M.E.R.C.Y. Communities I have seen many successes. I have seen participants come into the program homeless and leave as homeowners. I have seen participants come into the program with little to no self-esteem and leave with the confidence that they can make it on their own. I have also seen participants with very few skills leave the program with full-time employment. M.E.R.C.Y. Communities is truly an organization that has helped to empower many young mothers to become self-sufficient and promote positive change in their lives.
My name is Joelle Knoles, I live in Springfield, IL, and would like to share my story about a wonderful local charitable organization called M.E.R.C.Y Communities. On Christmas Eve 2001, my 7 year old daughter, Bethany and I lost our home in a fire. At the time of the fire, I had no insurance, no job, and now we had no home. Needless to say I was terrified for our future, and wondering what we were going to do. We stayed with my mother, but seeing that she lives in a 3 bedroom mobile home, and my sister was also staying there, the quarters were pretty tight, and we found ourselves stepping on one another's toes. I knew that we had to get out and find our own place, but I didn't know how I was going to do this. I started working at Blue Cross Blue Shield in February 2002, so I at least had an income coming in, but I still did not have enough money for a security deposit. I was not making enough money to get a nice place, so I just felt kind of stuck. I was looking through the housing packet that I received from Red Cross, and I noticed a flier for a place called M.E.R.C.Y Communities. I started reading through the information, and was pleased to see that the rent was income based. In addition to affordable rent, I also saw that they offered some services that I could benefit greatly from including counseling, parenting skills development, and budget management to name a few. I called M.E.R.C.Y, and was pleased to find out that I could get in immediately for an interview. I was a nervous wreck when I went in, because if I could not get an apartment there, I was basically out of options. During my interview, it became apparent to the staff member that I had some physical issues that I needed to address, and was instructed to get in to see a doctor before I could be considered a candidate for residency. Thank you Sister Maggie for making me see the doctor. I was diagnosed with a hypo active thyroid, and severe depression, and was immediately put on medication for both conditions. About a week later, I received a call advising me that I was eligible for the program, and they had an apartment that my daughter and I could move in to immediately. When I saw the apartment that we would occupy, I broke down in tears because it was so beautifully furnished, and I did not have to worry about what I didn't have because of our loss, but I could focus on rebuilding our lives in a home that had all the essentials that we needed. I soon came to learn that living at M.E.R.C.Y came with a price, or so I thought at the time. I had to attend regular group and individual counseling sessions. I had to start paying my bills on time. I had to start keeping a clean home. I had to start participating in my daughter's life. I had to start being accountable and responsible for developing our future. I DID NOT LIKE THIS!!! I am ashamed to admit that I was a hard client to deal with. I was rebellious, I was insolent, I was self absorbed, and I was selfish. I tried to get my caseworker, Heather fired. I complained about her to whoever would listen. I would refuse to talk to her. In other words, I was throwing temper tantrums and pouting like a 3 year old. Luckily for Bethany and myself, Heather never gave up on me even when I wanted to give up on myself. Heather continued to embrace me with compassion, empathy, and understanding, and eventually I came to realize that if this woman who had heard me talk about abusing my daughter physically and verbally, who heard me tell of the times that Bethany was forced to fix her own dinner because I was sleeping. Heather, who had heard me tell about my anger and fears, if she still had faith in me, then maybe I was worth it. One day after having been at M.E.R.C.Y for a couple of months, I suddenly realized that I wasn't looking for the negative in everything and everyone. I noticed that I wasn't as angry. I noticed that I heard my daughter's laughter more, and I realized that I had a wonderful daughter to spend quality time with. I noticed that I wasn't screaming, yelling, and hitting my daughter like I had in the past. Suddenly I had a clean home and my bills were paid. What was happening to me? Was I actually growing up? Apparently I was. I know I was growing up because my now husband, Bryan proposed to me after I had been at M.E.R.C.Y for about 4 months. I don't think that this would have been possible if not for M.E.R.C.YI left M.E.R.C.Y after I had been there for about 14 months to finalize my wedding plans, and marry my wonderful husband. When I left M.E.R.C.Y, I thought that this was a chapter of my life that was closed, and would not be revisited. I received invitations to participate in after care meetings, but was too busy with my new life. I kind of shut that door in my life to focus on my new family and continuing to improve my relationship with Bethany. Two years after getting married, I got pregnant with my daughter, Alexis, so that kept me busy too. Now back to how M.E.R.C.Y continues to impact my life today. As I stated earlier, I started working for Blue Cross Blue Shield in 2002, and continue to work there today. Last year, I was offered an opportunity to assist in our United Way campaign, and worked closely with others to promote United Way during our campaign week. While working with these people, I kept thinking about M.E.R.C.Y, and how much their help and assistance saved my life and my relationship with Bethany, and I felt moved to share my story. I thought that if I could personalize the services that United Way supports, then maybe I could get one person to donate one extra dollar. I never would have dreamed that it would have the effect that it has had. Several co workers approached me after hearing my story and informed me that they had never given to the United Way in the past, but signed up for it because of my story. Apparently, my story moved one of the United Way representatives also, because she contacted Brian Ganz who now works at M.E.R.C.Y, and informed him of my story. Brian in turn contacted me and asked if I would be interested in speaking at M.E.R.C.Y Communities 10 year dinner celebration in November of last year which I was very excited and nervous to do, but I did it because I would not be the woman that I am today without all of the assistance and support that I received from M.E.R.C.Y. I continue to speak on behalf of M.E.R.C.Y, and I recently became the newest member on their board of directors. I have worked closely with senior management to encourage some fund raising opportunities for M.E.R.C.Y. The staff at M.E.R.C.Y treats me like I am now doing them a favor, but what they do not realize is that they are the ones doing me a favor. They have reinvigorated me, and I feel like I am finally giving back. I may not be able to repay them for the life that I have now, but I can help pay it forward. Thank you M.E.R.C.Y for helping me to become a woman that my daughters can be proud of. Thank you for helping me to hold my head high and realize that I mattered. Lastly, thank you for helping to make me the type of woman that I would be proud for my daughters to be.