Salvation Army Freedom Center
Cinnaire provides New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investment to support the Salvation Army Freedom Center Pathway Forward and Harbor Light Center.
For over 70 years, the Salvation Army Freedom Center has served the needs of people living in the greater Chicago area. Previously operating out of a dilapidated building, the Freedom Center recently relocated to Chicago’s west side Humboldt Park neighborhood. Cinnaire has invested $9M in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) to help finance the brand new, 188,000 square foot facility. The three interconnected buildings will allow the Salvation Army to serve nearly 25,000 people a year.
The Freedom Center is home to the Harbor Light Center, one of the Salvation Army’s largest substance abuse recovery programs in the United States. For over 70 years, they have provided comprehensive, specialized services to persons seeking to overcome the disease of substance and alcohol abuse.
Pathway Forward, the Freedom Center’s residential work-release program helps men and women who have been imprisoned successfully re-enter society. Pathway not only provides valuable services to those individuals, but also benefits society by reducing crime and preventing recidivism. The program provides residential, social and vocational programming for up to 210 men and women.
The Harbor Lights Corps Community Center features a chapel, computer lab and a gymnasium. The center provides a space for the community to gather, to worship, and enjoy recreational activities together. The Corps Center serves as a gateway to many Salvation Army programs, such as feeding families, emergency assistance and job training programs.
The Freedom Center is also the base of operations for the Salvation Army’s outreach ministry – Mobile Feeding and Mobile Outreach. Every day, the mobile feeding unit makes 24 stops throughout Chicago, providing a hot meal for homeless men, women and children. The mobile outreach teams provide emergency transportation to shelters, enrollment in Salvation Army programs or referral to services needed, such as medical care.
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Tim has suffered from substance abuse problems for over 30 years. He had the desire to get sober, but life didn’t make it easy. Tim’s son was shot and killed while playing basketball on a Chicago neighborhood court. He experienced homelessness, mental and physical abuse. Tim knew his life was out of control after being attacked and beaten with a hammer. He was hospitalized because the blows to his head caused serious injuries. That’s when Tim’s daughter brought him to the Freedom Center.
Tim is in the program at Harbor Light Center. In a few months, he will have achieved his first year of sobriety.
I got in and it saved my life.
During his time at the center, Tim’s relationship with his daughter and grandchildren has strengthened. Tim credits the Freedom Center with saving his grandsons life. His grandson attended the Back-to-School Health Fair at the center, where he was diagnosed with diabetes – a condition that had never been diagnosed or treated. He was immediately taken to the hospital in critical condition, where he stayed for three days before being released. Tim’s daughter received education about diabetes and training on how to care for her son. Tim’s grandson is in much better health, spending most of his free time playing football – his Grandpa doesn’t miss a game.
The Freedom Center gave me a brand-new start. I found my spirituality. I praise God every day. I’m so thankful to my daughter for bringing me here. I’m finding happiness now. I love being called Grandpa, getting to see my grandkids. They come to the center for summer camp and to use the computer lab. Yeah, that is my happiness.
Tim has volunteered with the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Housing board meeting, completed the job training program, the discipleship certificate and is now working on attending job fairs to seek employment.
Princess saw the Freedom Center while visiting a friend that lived nearby. As a single mother of two young children, living in a homeless shelter on the south side of Chicago, she was interested in the job training program. She enrolled in the eight-week training program. The first four weeks, Princess attended classes and received job training. She went on to complete the second half of the program and began working in the maintenance department at the center. Living in the shelter across town presented challenges, but Princess was determined to complete the program.
I’d wake up at 4 a.m. everyday. I would get my children ready and we would get on a bus to get them to the babysitter. They were usually crying because they were hungry, but the shelter didn’t serve breakfast until 7 a.m. and I couldn’t bring my own food in. I use my food stamps to keep food at the babysitter’s house, she meets me at the bus stop with breakfast for my babies.
Princess then continues the rest of her long ride to the Freedom Center to get to work on time. This long, emotional start to her day at work doesn’t slow her down. With a smile that lights up the room and a twinkle in her eye, Princess is the type of person that makes others feel special. She has developed close friendships with others in the program, as well as her mentors that work at the center.
Before I started the training program, I was applying for 40 jobs a day. Nobody wants to hire a single mother that lives in a homeless shelter. Coming here, they give you all the tools you need for a job. If you show them you want to work and you’re a hard worker, they will find the resources for you. They will do whatever it takes to get you here.
Today, Princess is working full time and has moved into an apartment with her children. Her dream is to someday own a homeless shelter.