By: Jean Sweet Ehlinger (Pictured front row, right side)
Phoenix Hall is a transitional housing program established in 2017 for high school students from ages 14 and through graduation who experience housing instability in the North Lawndale neighborhood. It was developed through the Journey Forward Capital Campaign at Old St. Pat’s as one of many expressions of the North Lawndale Kinship Initiative. Day to day programming is managed by The Night Ministry and Empower To Succeed serves in the role of property management.
The “dorm-like” facility is presently at capacity, housing eight students whose parents and guardians grant them permission to reside there. By virtue of stable living conditions and wrap around support, these students undergo far less stress and fare better in school. In many of their families, unstable housing is the result of financial instability among other issues. Many of their parents and guardians are unemployed and grappling with other social issues.
Five of the current Phoenix Hall residents are seniors who will be graduating in June. They need financial support as their guardians are unable to provide more than emotional support and encouragement related to prom and graduation that are approaching. Most would agree that prom is a memorable rite of passage for high school students, but can be an extremely anxious time for those in financial need. This month, the Night Ministry staff and various volunteers are giving interested Phoenix Hall residents the opportunity to have a positive prom experience. Monetary help is needed to fund prom tickets, formal clothing, and accessories, and a “prom send-off” celebration with decorations, photos, and food at Phoenix Hall. There are two “prom send-off” dates scheduled: May 24 and June 1 at 5:00 pm. Anyone interested in helping to support these efforts can either make financial donations or volunteer to help interact with the students, their friends, and family members at Phoenix Hall on one of the dates.
To help create a long-lasting, fond memory for the students, volunteers may contact Jean Sweet Ehlinger, an Old St. Pat’s Member/Liaison for Phoenix Hall at (312) 925-2598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.