- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On August 8, 2019
- chicago metropolitan area, Chicago suburbs, Domestic Violence, DV agency, End Domestic Violence, family services, Housing Programs, independence, inspiration, non-profit, non-profit agencies, northwest chicago, Philanthropy, Prospect Heights, WINGS, WINGS Graduate
Empowered by her time at WINGS, Michelle, a WINGS graduate of over 25 years ago, recently became Alderman of Prospect Heights.
Michelle came to WINGS in 1993 when she was eight months pregnant with no car for transportation and no one to turn to.
“I was not in a good situation with my boyfriend at the time and didn’t want to bring my newborn home to the unhealthy environment we were living in,” Michelle says.
Another non-profit referred her to WINGS for housing.
“To this day, I’ll never forget when WINGS called me to say I was accepted into the housing program. What a heaven-sent gift! I was shocked, happy, and relieved,” Michelle recalls.
“Once I moved in, I felt very blessed to have such great support services. With WINGS guidance and resources, I felt like I was becoming the best mom I possibly could be,” Michelle says.
“WINGS taught me about the importance of structure and routine, which I had never really experienced before. They also helped me figure out what I wanted to do for my career. Since I like to help people, I decided that I would look into jobs in retail or customer service, which often happen to offer flexible schedules.”
Over the years, Michelle worked retail, had another daughter, and eventually found a career opportunity that she feels was the platform to success in her professional life.
“I had an interview with a textbook company and was nervous because I didn’t have a college degree. However, the interviewer told me that he loved my spark and enthusiasm and offered me a job on the spot,” Michelle smiles.
“I tell my girls all the time, ‘If you put your mind to it, you can do anything. If you want to be successful, you just have to go for it.’
I’m so proud of the women my daughters have become and I owe it to WINGS for teaching me what it takes to be a good parent.”
Invested in her Community
For over nine years now, Michelle has been working at a well-known local company and is currently the Senior Customer Service Specialist.
While Michelle has always been interested in making her community better, in recent years she has been getting more involved in local politics.
She shares, “I started out running for the Board of Directors of my complex and really enjoyed making a tangible difference.
I live in a diverse area, and I want to make sure everyone feels like they have a voice.”
A friend encouraged her to run for alderman and she recently was voted in.
“I’ve been in the role for the past few months and am still learning, but I love it. I don’t look at it as a title, but trying to be the voice of the community. I get out and listen to people.
Using my best judgement and transparency, I’m working to make good decisions for the community.”
“I give so much credit to WINGS”
Michelle says, “It is so nice to be a part of WINGS sisterhood of graduates and talk to them at WINGS events. It is such a great feeling to see people the agency has helped bounce back from hard times.”
She shares, “My life is great and I give so much credit to WINGS and what they do to make their clients stronger. I’m blessed to be a part of their history.”
This year WINGS is recognizing 35 years of service to the community, learn more about WINGS history:
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