Executive Director’s 2020 Review

Executive Director, Yaisa Hagood (left), with Sister Therese O’Sullivan (right), co-founder and former executive director.

I am proud to be part of Southside Center of Hope. For 37 years, we have addressed three of the most pressing issues facing women in black and brown communities. In the process, we have restored families by empowering women to create transformational change in their lives.

In September 2020, I began my third year as Executive Director of this organization and the work has never been harder. Simply stated, we had too much inequality and injustice before the pandemic, and now we have more. COVID-19 has put deep-rooted structural racism on full display, and the disproportionate impact of the crisis on our most vulnerable and marginalized communities has been devastating.

Simultaneously, the growing and potentially transformative movements around racial and socioeconomic justice are creating historic opportunities for change. We stand with communities powerfully advocating for change and will continue to use our voice to advance equity and justice. Holding to the vision of our Founders, Southside Center of Hope is committed to using our resources and inluence to address structural and systemic issues that impact homeless women seeking recovery from the disease of addiction.

Prior to being faced with a global health crisis, our organization was dealing with economic struggles. I am proud of the efforts our board of directors has taken to ensure the long-term sustainability of our mission. This past September, we launched a Young Professionals Board. This motivated group of young philanthropists are eager to support women in recovery and serve as ambassadors for our organization. We continue to seek and recruit professionals from different sectors to our board of directors that have subject matter expertise, capacity to support the organization Þnancially and are willing to help fundraise.

Finally, we made the decision to sell our building. The school building purchased from the
Archdiocese has served as a haven for women and children for more than twenty years, but
deferred maintenance and costly building repairs have strained our operating budget for
more than a decade. At a time when our services are needed more than ever, we have had
to change programming because of facility issues that caused safety concerns. We are
grateful to our community partners who for the past month have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us to support the families we serve as we transition to a new location.

In our new facility, residents will have private rooms and handicap accessibility. Private
rooms will help provide measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus and handicap
accessibility means we will no longer have to turn away women with special needs. A new
facility also means we can apply to be a licensed recovery home, an initiative not
achievable in our current building. As a licensed recovery home, we will be eligible for
additional sources of funding to support our current programming and receive revenue to
expand our services. We are conÞdent, that we are on a path to ensuring the mission Sister
Therese and the late Sister Connie started in the 80’s will continue for many years to come.

We know each day in the coming weeks and months will bring more challenges and
pressures on all of us but especially nonproÞt organizations that rely on contributions from
individuals who may be facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. Our board
of directors, myself and the staff are well prepared to face these challenges head-on with
ingenuity, fortitude, and integrity. We are encouraged and humbled by the outpouring of
support we have received from our community of donors. We ask that you continue to
stand with us and help us lead the fight to end the addiction crisis among homeless
women in Chicago.