15: Midwestern

Showcasing the Abilities of Artists with Disabilities in 2020

2020 marked Arts of Life’s 20th Anniversary year. Over two decades we have grown to run two art studios supporting 60 artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Chicago-land. For those marginalized by disability, Arts of Life supplies the rare opportunity to find meaningful work and a sense of community inclusion that can ultimately lead to dignity, freedom, choice, and a sense of belonging. There was much to celebrate, but instead our plans were cancelled and the year seemed doomed to end in a whimper.

Jylisa's Story

Jylisa was pregnant and experiencing homelessness when she was referred to New Moms. For the last 10 years, she said she’d basically been raising herself – her mother coming sporadically in and out of her life because of struggles with substance abuse. Jylisa was living in a shelter for pregnant and parenting mothers before moving into a New Moms apartment when she turned 18.

The Perfect Storm

Sue, a middle-aged mother, found herself in a situation that happens often. As a working mother, she provided for her children and paid her rent on time. As rent became due, her landlord decided he did not want to renew her lease. With the prospect of making money on his investment, he intends to remodel her home and sell it. At the same time, her employer was struggling to stay open and had to cut positions due to covid. Her work is one of those cuts. Shortly after she learned that she must find a place to live and a job, she discovered she was pregnant.

Lake County Haven - Lindsey's Story

Lindsey came to the Haven in the summer of 2021. She was nearly 8 months pregnant and with no job, no home, and a pandemic to further complicate things, she was terrified about what she would do when the baby came. She had tried staying with the father of her unborn child, but he was abusive and actively using and dealing drugs. In fact, Lindsey often felt safer on the streets than in his apartment. But she knew that with a baby on the way – and coming soon – she would need someplace safe, warm, and permanent to raise her son.