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2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Deborah's Place

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Homeless Shelters, Housing Development, Construction & Management, Human Services, Women, Womens Rights

Mission: Deborah's Place breaks the cycle of homelessness for women in Chicago. Through a continuum of housing options, comprehensive support services and opportunities for change provided by dedicated volunteers and staff, women succeed in achieving their goals of stable housing, sustainable income and greater self-determination.

Results: Since the agency opened its doors in 1985, over 3,500 women have benefited from the programs and services of Deborah's Place. In fiscal year 2010, the housing programs and supportive services provided by Deborah's Place helped 450 women work toward their goals of permanent housing, sustainable income, and greater self-determination. The number of women served was a 17% increase from the previous fiscal year. Highlights of the impact Deborah's Place had on these women include: *53 women moved directly from the streets to the agency's supportive housing programs. *97% of our supportive housing residents maintained their housing at Deborah’s Place (163 women) or relocated to stable housing in the community (25 women). These women have truly broken the cycle of homelessness. * Zero women were evicted or terminated from our programs, demonstrating our commitment to harm reduction and Housing First strategies. *54 women obtained or maintained sustainable income through employment or public benefits. *100 percent of participants accessed critical services that helped to reduce barriers to maintaining stable housing, including 191 who received health services, and 409 who sought educational or social-emotional opportunities through the agenc's Learning Centers.

Target demographics: Deborah’s Place served unaccompanied adult women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We specialize in reaching unaccompanied adult women who are considered by the system to be the “hardest to house” and who represent 43 percent of Chicago’s single homeless population.Demographic Characteristics:75% African American17% Caucasian67% between ages 41-60Age range: 20-80Situational Characteristics:59% experience chronic homelessness92% live with a disability 70% live with a mental illness40% experience chemical dependence30% are victims of domestic violence

Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 400 women go through the doors of Deborah’s Place each year, and we strive to ensure that once housed in our programs, not one will return to the streets. “Kathy”, a former participant of Teresa’s Interim Housing and the Rebecca Johnson Apartments, described how she broke the cycle of homelessness at Deborah’s Place in a recent letter to our Executive Director: “I enjoy my life now. I find a purpose to get up in the morning and am more capable of handling challenges that life brings my way.” In the letter, she described her personal journey: Finding her dream job (“the longest I have ever been employed with one employer before,” she wrote), living in her own apartment, and approaching completion of her doctorate degree. “This would never have been possible without the support and encouragement that I received from Deborah's Place.” Like Kathy, women come to Deborah’s Place for assistance reclaiming control over their lives and discover not only the tangible reward of a key to their new homes, but also their inner strength to recover from homelessness.

Geographic areas served: Deborah’s Place serves women throughout the City of Chicago with locations in the East Garfield Park, Old Town, and Lakeview neighborhoods.

Programs: The innovative and award-winning housing programs of Deborah’s Place include: * Dolores’ Safe Haven: Permanent housing for 15 women who are chronically homeless and mentally ill *Teresa’s Interim Housing: A 10-bed, 120-day residential program focused on rapid re-housing * Marah’s Permanent Housing: Permanent supportive housing for 30 women with disabilities * Patty Crowley Apartments: 39 permanent housing units for women with disabilities * Rebecca Johnson Apartments: 90 units of permanent supportive housing Women residing in Deborah’s Place housing programs have access to a variety of services that are coordinated through on-site Learning Centers located at each of three agency buildings. Deborah’s Place also provides daytime supportive services to off-site women who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness. * Health Services: Through on-site mini-health clinics, Deborah’s Place staff and partners coordinate women’s healthcare and provide referrals to free or low-cost health services. On-site healthcare and health education reduce health crises that may require costly emergency room visits and helps women who have not accessed traditional healthcare due to barriers including lack of health insurance, mental illness, substance use, and resistance to care. * Education Services: Group activities, field trips, and one-on-one engagement provide women access to the humanities, life skills training, social-emotional development, and basic adult education including GED preparation and computer instruction. * Employment Services: Assistance with resume-writing, job searches, and career coaching helps women to obtain and maintain employment. * Therapeutic Services: Licensed clinical social workers and masters-level student interns provide counseling and crisis intervention for women with mental illness, addictions, and dual diagnoses. Art therapy is also provided at multiple sites. * Comprehensive Case Management: Unlike the traditional medical model, case management at Deborah’s Place is an individualized and participant-directed process, comprised of collaborative interventions that assist each woman in meeting the goals she has established for herself. Guided by the Recovery Model, case management services use an asset-based approach emphasizing each woman’s individual strengths so that case managers can link women to resources – both inside and outside of Deborah’s Place – to help them reach stability and self-sufficiency.

Community Stories

24 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an employee of Deborah's Place for the past 3 years, I have learned a great deal about myself and the population we serve. The women who we offer services to are phenomenal and they show a great amount of resilience. Through the support that we offer as a team and as individuals, I am proud to work for an organization such as DP.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I got involved with Deborah's Place 9 years ago as a volunteer serving dinner with friends at one of their 3 Chicago locations. Deborah's Place stood out among the many Chicago nonprofits - they had a viable and unique solution to the tired old problem of homelessness. Women at Deborah's Place were still struggling, but Deborah's Place had a strong sense of what it takes to break the cycle of homelessness. I saw the benefits and became increasingly vested. I volunteered in different areas, committed to serve on a committee, became part of the Partners in Hope donor community, joined the board and ultimately served as board president.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Deborah’s Place is a leader in supportive housing for women in Chicago. Deborah’s Place has a housing first philosophy which gets those in need off the street as soon as possible. Through the use of harm reduction techniques and case management, Deborah’s Place is fulfilling its goal of making housing available to women in Chicago. I have worked with this organization for six years and the staff, board and volunteers are of the highest quality. Deborah’s Place is known as a leader and shares its talents with other Chicago organizations to address homelessness in Chicago. I have been working with non-profits for 20 years, and this is the best yet.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Deborah's Place resects women and works on getting them to respect themselves

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Deborah's Place provides wonderful services to women who are currently homeless or who have been homeless. Deborah's Place upholds high standards of excellence and values -- the women are respected, supported and encouraged to set and meet their goals as individuals.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

With its mission to break the cycle of homelessness for women in Chicago, the two key words I use to describe Deborah's Place are respect and empathy. Respect and empathy extends across all programs and to all participants including staff and administrators, volunteers and board members and most especially to the women who come seeking services and shelter. Respect comes in listening and responding to the voices of all the many women who come through the doors, evolving over time from a straight forward emergency overnight shelter to a multifaceted program of permanent and transitional housing with a full range of supportive services. Empathy is shown by the innovative and cutting edge 'no-eviction' program developed by Deborah's Place as part of the solution to ending homelessness and now nationally recognized and shared by Deborah's Place with shelter and service providers around the country. I have remained a volunteer and supporter of Deborah's Place for so long because the organization is so willing to evolve. Moving from homelessness to shelter and permanent home takes resiliency, flexibility and determination. Deborah's Place demonstrates those qualities.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Of all of the homeless service agencies in Chicago, I believe that Deborah's Place is among the most innovative, dynamic and inclusive. I have been involved with this agency for 25 years in a variety of roles, and the love and dedication of all involved has never ceased to amaze me. It is truly a place where lives are changed.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I started working with Deborah's Place some 20 years ago as a consultant from United Way of Chicago. We dealt with capacity building in the infra-structure and program areas. I was amazed at the inclusiveness of the program participants in the roles of planning and decision making at the agency. The staff were well trained, sensitive to the women and their needs, innovative and were mission driven. I came on the Board six years ago and am proud of the governance of the organization, it's executive leadership and the forward thinking of staff and board members. Deborah's Place strongly believes in volunteers and helping them understand their roles in governance as well as program. Board member are encouraged to interact with the residents as often as they can be it playnig bingo, sharing lunch or dinner or taking some for a ride to the doctor. All decisions are made with the consideration of how it will impact the women in our programs. We also are innovative in how we strive to be more efficient in how we do our work and what are the outcomes of our work.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Deborah's Place is a fabulous organization serving women in Chicago! Using Harm-Reduction, DP accepts women where they are and works to improve and stabilize their lives. It is so fulfilling to see the women learning in the Learning Center, addressing their health needs and working with their Case Managers. As we start to feel the cold outside, my heart is warmed knowing that DP has helped so many women find and maintain "home". They can address the many reasons that resulted in homelessness and become stronger citizens. I am continuously amazed at the ways that the residents reach out to others. There is a spirit that cannot be stopped!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Deborah’s Place breaks the cycle of homelessness for women in Chicago. Through a continuum of housing options, comprehensive support services and opportunities for change provided by dedicated volunteers and staff, women succeed in achieving their goals of stable housing, sustainable income, and greater self-determination.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

The saying goes that "each journey begins with the fist step". In my years at Deborah's Place, all of my daily journeys have begun by someome giving me a leg-up. Since January 2006, with their help,I have begun to realize my dreams reach my potential and plan for a future that I'm not afraid to face. Because of Deborah's Place,I am on the fast-track to a college degree.I'm a peer leader for a Healthy Heart organization and I volunteer within the walls of Deborah's Place. I get a chance to give back to those who have who have helped me. Lack of affordable and safe housing for women is considered to be at crisis levels.This organization is a precious and constructive member of our community and should be rewarded as such. There is a need for more wonderful people to staff the many departments that serve the ladies,as well as infrastructure maintenance.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Deborah's Place is the leader and best at providing housing and supportive services to women in need in Chicago! I've been a volunteer for 11 years. The staff and volunteers of Deborah's Place are so incredibly commited to the cause of ending homelessness and dedicated to serving the needs of the women who call Deborah's Place home. Since it's inception, Deborah's Place has been a leader and the best at evolving to meet the needs of its participants while remaining true to its core value and mission.

10

Board Member

Rating: 5

Deborah’s Place brings has a wonderful mix of vision, professionalism and best use of resources. Deborah’s Place actually ENDS homelessness for their participants through the use of innovative programs. They also take individuals which may would consider a challenge. I am confident that each time I make a donation it will be used in the best possible way.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to volunteer at this shelter because I too was once homeless. To not know where I would be sleeping from day to day made it harder to concentrate on daily living. To find a job that would break the cycle was always there but it was foreshadowed by my nightly fight to sleep somewhere safe. When my life became right it was time to give back. Chicago is a hard city, even if you have a job but the frigid winters can make it unbearable. To see the women every week does ones heart good. The kitchen is spotless and a good place to be. The women, who range in age and vary by stories are all well taken care of by a staff of people who have their best interests at heart. I tell everyone I know about the work being done here. Since I now work as a Student Employee for a College in Skokie, Illinois I have gotten one of the staff interested in maybe taking a class there. I have brought books and materials from my term as a student and the women were grateful and grabbed them up like children at Christmas. I have said that I would never accept money for the two hours I spend in that kitchen every week. To give back to other women in need is all the thanks that I need and want. Keep up what you are doing. And to the women that are being helped, people care about you. I try to carry that message from them to you. Have a blessed, safe and progressive holiday season. To the year 2010 there is much hapiness to be had. Just stop and look for it. Respectfully, Julie Berman

10

Client Served

Rating: 4

I really enjoy living here, it's comfortable, extremely moderately (affordable), and the women here, the staff, are dedicated to serving us. I feel like every residential place in Chicago should be like Deborah's Place, the people who funded this place had a good place and a good idea about making a better community for women who can't afford a deluxe-style life, but, rather, this community is better than any deluxe-style apartment. The learning center to the message person who comes on Thursday afternoons, it's truely a warm environment. I plan to be here a while!

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

One of the most well-run organizations in Chicago. Volunteer participation is exemplary, and the staff is first-rate! Through difficult economic times, DP has always come through, a testament to management and reputation.

8

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been involved with a variety of not-for-profit organizations in the Mid-west (board member, volunteer, fundraiser, consultant) and have witnessed a lot of different approaches to management. I can say that Deborah's place is clearly one of the best I have seen. Their staff is very professional and they are courteous to their clients, vendors and volunteers. Like all not-for-profits they experience their share of staff turnover but they do an excellent job of maintaining continuity and sharing organizational knowledge. As an organization they seem to know their mission and stay focused on offering services that are relevant to it. They are consistent and reliable in dealing with donors, vendors and volunteers and seem to make the most of their resources.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a long time supporter and volunteer for Deborah's Place. I started out working with the women in the Learning Center teaching them computer skills. Then I began working with the Finance Commission and eventually joined the Board. Deborah's Place approach to ending homelessness for women is extremely effective at getting and keeping women housed. In addition the level of fiduciary oversight is really impressive. They make a little go a very long way.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Deborah's place for 3 years before moving to London. I greatly miss the women there--especially Mary! This organization provides a phenomenal service to community.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at the Sedgwick location for seven months now. I help prepare and serve meals for the ladies. It is a very fulfilling experience. The staff is friendly, and the women are genuinely appreciative of the volunteers. I like that I can sign up to volunteer when my schedule permits as well. I always look forward to my next volunteer shift at Deborah's Place.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I enjoyed my time as a volunteer at Deborah's Place, and as an attendee at their Mardi Gras and Chili Cook-off events. I know that the work they do is so necessary and they really do provide results. The fact that they not only house hundreds of women, but also give them the tools they need to never be homeless again is extraordinary. I'm proud to be associated with such a great organization, and I'm looking forward to their next event.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I interned at Deborah's Place as a social work student and was so impressed with the dedication of the staff that I joined the Professional Auxillary Board to continue my relationship. I have worked with the women individually and with the PAB to raise funds for the organization. Deborah's Place is dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness and to helping the women in all of its programs better their lives.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Marah's (part of Deborah's Place) for several years. We enjoy bringing dinner and bingo to the ladies as well as visiting with them every month. Recently, our volunteer group has had some troubles of our own and the wonderful ladies at Marah's have been generous with their time and energy by keeping us in their thoughts and prayers. In giving to them, they have paid us back and enriched our lives beyond measure! Thank you ladies!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working with the employees of Deborah' Place for a number of years and have met many of the residents. What an awesome group of people. I am so impressed with everything that they do to help women in need. Kudos to Deborah's Place. I particularly like their offering incentives to the women. They are always reaching out to the community for more support and I truthfully cannot think of a better place to support.