Lauren Valentine and her 12-year-old son were homeless and living in a shelter for two years. Lauren was working at a hospital and close to being able to afford her own place, but she needed one extra push to help her with her first month’s rent and security deposit.

Catholic Charities was that push. She was connected with Kathie Pointdexter, Catholic Charities Department Director for our New Hope Apartments Program.

“Lauren was once living the American dream, and like so many of our clients, situations came up, and she ended up being homeless,” Kathie said. Kathie was able to provide Lauren with the resources she needed to move out of the shelter and into her own home with her son.

“To live in my own place has changed my life,” Lauren said. “I can breathe easier. I can have quiet time and cook with my son. We can eat together in peace. I used to cry every night, and I was having seizures while living in the shelter. Since I’ve moved into our new home, I have been at total peace.”

For her son, Lauren said he’s enjoyed “being the man of the house” and takes pride in doing his chores.

“He can play basketball and just be himself, he doesn’t have to worry about trying to make friends in the shelter and then they leave. He would get so upset that he had lost a friend. Now we have a neighborhood, he makes friends, and he sees them on a daily basis,” Lauren said.

To add to her peace of mind, Catholic Charities partnered with Humble Design Chicago, a nonprofit organization that provides home furnishings and supplies for families who have overcome homelessness. Each family is interviewed and receives items that reflect their style and interests.

All of the items are then provided through donations, and with the transportation and storage help of U-Haul, Humble Design makes the delivery to families like Lauren’s and begins the design process.

“I feel so grateful to be invited into these people’s lives,” said Kristin Drutchas, founder of Humble Design Chicago. “Our staff is really just a conduit for good: helping those who want to get rid of extra things and giving it to those in need.”

Once the design process is finished and all the items have been collected, the Humble Design team goes to work and there’s a big reveal for the family’s first visit to their newly outfitted home. When Lauren saw the outcome, she couldn’t stop crying tears of joy.

“I never had the option to pick out things or design my own home,” she said. “It’s an unreal moment. To think about people in this day and age caring about strangers and wanting to help them...they’re angels. They’re real-life angels.”