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“I knew that I had to get out of my living situation, but the fear of homelessness worried me more than living in the abuse.”

Chicago, Illinois – January, 2021

My name is Katrina. I was born and raised in Chicago. I went into the Army National Guard and had an eight-year career in the military but tragedies in my life ended it. While I was in the military, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and then with kidney failure. I was under extreme stress with my career and watching my mom die and having lost a child. At the same time, I was living with an abusive husband.

I knew that I had to get out of my living situation, but the fear of homelessness worried me more than living in the abuse. I was finally able to get into a homeless shelter for women of domestic violence and I was preparing to check in when I went into labor. I was then homeless with a newborn son and unable to work due to the fact that I’d had a “C” section. I called Volunteers of America and they went into high gear. They gave me toiletries, Pampers, milk and other necessities. Volunteers of America was a Godsend.

Everyone at VOA had the same heart and willingness to serve—this was not always the case, in my experience, with other social services organizations. VOA paid for everything—my bus cards, childcare, rent, toiletries, my work clothes—everything. They truly helped me get back on my feet.

I was able to graduate from their program and go out on my own, but I couldn’t forget all that they’d done for me. Although I was no longer a client, I stayed in touch with them. I really wanted to work with them.

And then an opportunity came along. VOA was hiring and I applied for a position in the HR department. Not long after, I received a call from the hiring manager asking if I’d be interested in a different position, they thought I was the perfect candidate. After learning more, I agreed and applied to be the employment coordinator for the Veterans Program. Not long after I was hired! This is the organization that changed my life when I needed help the most. To be able to give back and help other veterans who are in need, is absolutely what I love doing. I would have done this job for free.

Another reason I work for this organization is that I enjoy the interaction I have with everyone. It is true teamwork and it’s a family. It is now my family.

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