2020 Virtual Graduation Cermony

Southside Center of Hope graduate, Anna, said she was hopeless before coming starting the program. Today, she is in recovery and employed full-time at a job she loves.

Earlier this week, Southside Center of Hope held its 4th program graduation ceremony to honor 20 women who’ve completed the program. This year, the ceremony was held virtually on Facebook Live. 

“I can think of no better way to highlight the importance of National Recovery Month than to celebrate the achievements of women who are in recovery. I’m grateful that technology allowed us to hold the event virtually and that we didn’t have to cancel it because of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Yaisa Hagood, Executive Director. 

Sister Therese O’Sullivan, co-founder of Southside Center of Hope, was the first speaker and congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments. She also reminded them to believe in themselves and to use the tools they were given at House of Hope to keep moving forward in their recovery.  

The featured speaker for graduation was LeeAnn Trotter, a reporter for NBC Chicago. Ms. Trotter shared an empowering message about overcoming her own addiction. Recovering from addiction is no small feat, and Trotter told the graduates she was proud to call them her sisters in recovery.

Because of scheduling conflicts, not all 20 were available to participate in the virtual graduation ceremony. Two graduates, Anna and Karen, spoke during the ceremony to share how their lives have changed since joining the program at House of Hope.

Anna spoke about how grateful she is to have been accepted into the program at Southside Center of Hope and how her life has been transformed from feeling hopeless to now being employed full-time in her dream job as an urban farmer in Chicago.  

“Last year I had very little hope for my life and I really took a chance by coming to Southside Center of Hope but since being there my hope has grown every single day,” Anna shared. “Today, my life is so much better and I appreciate everything that has been done for me.” 

Karen gave a moving message about the impact Southside Center of Hope had on her life, and especially the impact that Sister Therese and Ms. Hagood, made on her. Karen also congratulated her fellow graduates and reminded them that they are blessed and to be grateful for the tools they were given by Southside Center of Hope.

“We are powerful beyond measure. When things are going crazy in your mind remember that,” Karen said to her fellow graduates.  

The ceremony concluded with Ms. Hagood giving wishes of success to the graduates. During her closing message, she reminded the graduates and viewers at home that throughout our lives things happen that are beyond our control, but what matters most is how we respond. She commended the graduates for taking control of their lives and making the decision to recover from addiction 

Throughout the ceremony, there was a common theme of acknowledging and thanking the co-founders of Southside Center of Hope, Sister Therese O’Sullivan and the late Sister Connie Driscoll, for their vision of creating a safe place for women to recover from homelessness and addiction.