Goldie’s Place was born from the vision of Roberta Friend, the former program director of Hilda’s Place, a shelter for the homeless in Evanston, Illinois. Roberta with two volunteers, Joy Murphy and Johanna Dalton, offered tutoring and life skills assistance to the participants of that shelter. Their experiences there taught them some important basics about working with the homeless:

Goldie & Roberta

  • Interacting one-on-one with homeless individuals provides a powerful, positive impact.
  • Lending a sympathetic ear goes a long way in building trust and confidence which are essential elements of working effectively with people experiencing homelessness.
  • Working together toward positive change affects both participants and volunteers.

Their experiences also produced a lasting awareness that, without some sort of personal resources like family or friends, homeless men and women often do “fall through the cracks” of existing social services. Additionally, they came to realize that the only way adults who are homeless can transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency is by first demonstrating a desire to change. Without that commitment, no amount of support, encouragement or teaching sustains the momentum necessary to move out of homelessness.

The humble beginnings of Goldie’s Place were made possible by small private financial donations and community-based fund raising events. The staff consisted of volunteers and one employee, Executive Director Roberta Friend. A volunteer grant writer prepared the initial grant application and Goldie’s was awarded a $32,000 annual contract through the Chicago Department of Human Services (CDHS) – HUD SuperNOFA, Supportive Housing Program. This HUD grant along with a very generous $10,000 gift from the Landau Foundation allowed Goldie’s Place to begin expanding its scope of services and reaching out to greater numbers of the homeless population.

What began 18 years ago as a one-woman operation has blossomed into a successful support center for the homeless with 14 paid employees, a 13-member Board of Directors and more than 100 very dedicated volunteers. Goldie’s Place has grown its services from the original tutoring, mentoring, resume assistance and GED referral to now also include employment assistance, job coaching, job placement, small group job readiness training, free dental care, recovery support and a clothing closet service.

During its first year (1996–1997), Goldie’s Place partnered with ten social service agencies and offered services to 130 people. In 2013, Goldie’s Place collaborated with more than 100 social service agencies and worked with over 1,000 participants to help them build a better life.

Throughout its first five years of operations, Goldie’s Place received private funding primarily from individual donors, churches, and special community based-fund raising events sponsored by a few small, but very important corporate underwriters. These private funds along with the HUD SuperNOFA, Supportive Housing Program grant sustained the agency and its service delivery in these early years.

In 2002, Goldie’s Place began reaching out to the corporate and foundation community to strengthen, sustain and increase funding. Successfully launched, that effort was expanded, to sustain as much as 50% of contributions to meet the growing needs of people who are homeless in Chicago, and realize the tremendous potential offered by the donation of much larger, rent-free space through 2027.

Click here to find out how Goldie’s Place got its name.