About HOS

Home of the Sparrow is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization that was established in 1986. Home of the Sparrow serves the community as a transitional shelter program providing housing and supportive services for homeless women and their children in McHenry County and Northern Illinois. Through the generous support of donors and friends, Home of the Sparrow celebrated its 25th Anniversary Celebration in 2012. Each year, more than 165 homeless women and children reside in Home of the Sparrow’s shelters and scattered site apartments. At any given time, up to 65% of residents are children.  Since Home of the Sparrow’s program began, over 2,500 women have reached out to Home of the Sparrow, seeking help and hope and ultimately, lives of independence and self-sufficiency.  We also  provide women in crisis situations with information on additional advocacy services and prevention programs within our community.

The doors of Home of the Sparrow are always open. Utilizing all resources available, we strive to meet the needs of as many women and children as possible while keeping our waiting list at a minimum.


The vision for Home of the Sparrow began with Sister Moira (Nancy) Traeger, a Catholic nun, more than twenty five years ago when she and many interfaith friends and colleagues recognized the reality of homelessness in McHenry County and set out to make a difference. After years of effort, disappointment and almost giving up, they finally stood at the doorway of a residence located in McHenry, Illinois . In 1986 the doors of the McHenry County Interfaith Shelter opened to a family – a single mother and her children. It was the first shelter for homeless women and children in McHenry County. The founders were from seven interfaith churches and included Joy Rogers Martin, who still serves as a volunteer at the agency.

Also among those early organizers was Rev. Phyllis Mueller, a newly ordained Presbyterian minister, who realized that homelessness in McHenry County was a reality among women and children, and that these women and children had no place to go. Rev. Mueller connected with the interfaith group, joined the board and, together, they worked to make their idea of a shelter become reality. As Chaplain, Rev. Mueller directed the agency through most of the first eleven years of the McHenry County Interfaith Shelter, later renamed Home of the Sparrow.

25 years later

Committed to McHenry County and Northern Illinois:

  • Two shelters
  • Five transitional apartments
  • Aftercare
  • Six Sparrow’s Nest Thrift Stores… And more to come
  • Thirteen new units of affordable housing
  • Sparrow’s Point Program: A collaborative partnership with Turning Point to provide shelter to women fleeing a domestic violence situation.

Now in its second decade of providing services Home of the Sparrow is committed to its Mission which is: To provide Hope, Opportunity and Support that empowers women and children, as they journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency.


Donate Today


A gathering of faith

“Sparrows possess remarkable strength and endurance records. They seem to be impervious to severe winds or inclement weather. They fly continually, all day long, foraging for food. They have been clocked at great speeds and have been known to fly hundreds of miles during one daylight period. Their endurance and energy levels are enormous, and even their wing revolutions per minute present an awesome number. Sparrows are incredibly strong and tough little birds, making them appear virtually indestructible…

However, as powerful as sparrows are, if you, as a human being, were to catch a sparrow in your hand and squeeze it, you could break every bone in its body and crush it to death within thirty seconds.

You are very much like a sparrow. You appear powerful, strong, impervious to the storms of life, but I see you are crushed and broken, without a song.”

Joyce Landorf Heatherley, 1984


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.