Home of the Sparrow (HOS) opened its doors to their first shelter on December 15, 1986 and was incorporated on February 17, 1987. This was the first shelter for homeless women and children in McHenry County, called the McHenry County Interfaith Shelter, opened to a family – a single mother and her children.
The founders were from seven interfaith churches and included Joy Rogers Martin who was a longtime volunteer. Joy is now in her 80’s and unable to volunteer but was a driving force spreading the word of HOS. Among those early organizers was the Rev. Phyllis Mueller, a newly ordained Presbyterian minister who all saw the need to provide a critical resource in the community. What started out as a nun’s vision who, with her many interfaith friends and colleagues, recognized the reality of homelessness in McHenry County, has now evolved into a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has been serving homeless women and children for 34 years. Each year, HOS touches the lives of more than 2,500 individuals. There is no single cause of family homelessness, and no single service that can help families overcome their barriers to independence. Family trauma impacts nearly every aspect of family functioning, so our services target multiple life areas for adults and children. We invest the time, service intensity, and scope of care necessary to teach families to succeed long-term. We serve women and children from diverse backgrounds but have the same passion and dedication for seeing each family achieve and sustain long-term independence.
Today, HOS provides far more than shelter services. Current programs include a Transitional Shelter program that shelters 32-40 individuals per night; an Outreach and Prevention Program focused on preventing homelessness; a Subsidized Apartment Program that has the capacity to serve three families for up to a year while they build resources for independent living; an Affordable Housing Program that offers 26 affordable apartment units located across Northern Illinois for low income families; and several Rental Assistance Programs that help families obtain or remain in permanent housing within the community.
HOS also operates seven thrift stores located in Arlington Heights, Cary, McHenry, Mundelein, Palatine, Third Lake, Woodstock; six under the banner of Sparrow’s Nest Thrift Stores, and one under the banner of Community Threads. Net proceeds from the thrift stores are used to support all of HOS’s programs and services. Not only do the stores provide unrestricted income and daily cash flow to HOS, they are a zero-cost provider of clothing, furniture and housewares to HOS clients and provide goods to other agency clients.
HOS is truly grateful to the community for your support! With your help for 34 years now, homeless women and children all across Northern Illinois have been given a second chance to rebuild their lives. We hope to continue to provide their programs and services to those in need for many years to come. Together, we can continue to change the lives of homeless women and children in our community.