Share this story

A Weight Lifted

A Weight Lifted

Wonnina is a hardworking mother with three young children. The family lives in a three- bedroom apartment. Wonnina was recently promoted at work, and she just achieved her goal of earning her GED. To see her today, it is difficult to imagine the difficult path Wonnina navigated in order to get to the tranquil suburban life she now lives.

Her life took a sudden turn when her youngest daughter was just five weeks old. The children’s father was the victim of gun violence in Chicago, and Wonnina spent weeks by his side in the hospital. During this time, the family became homeless and stayed at PADS, an interim and permanent housing and support services organization to end homelessness, which is where Wonnina first learned about Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet.

This strong and loving mother was referred to Catholic Charities for support. She was determined to work hard and overcome any obstacle in order to help her family secure stable housing and a brighter future. Wonnina was accepted into Catholic Charities’ HOME TBRA (Tenant-Based Rental Assistance) Project, which is a rapid re-housing program. As a result, the family was able to quickly move into their new apartment. When Wonnina walked through the door of her home for the first time, “It was like the world had just been lifted from my shoulders,” she said. “And the smiles on my kids’ faces said it all.”

They were home.

Once housing was secured, Wonnina worked with her Catholic Charities’ case manager to overcome other obstacles and challenges she faced. She eagerly took every single class and seminar that was offered at Catholic Charities. She learned money management skills.

“Saving and budgeting mean everything,” she said. “Nobody taught me these skills growing up, and they help so much.” She also repaired her credit and went back to school. Even Wonnina’s professional life improved as she was promoted three times “which was due to the classes I took at Catholic Charities,” she said.

Rachel Kistler, a rapid re-housing case manager, was impressed by the Wonnina’s efforts. “She always puts her children first to ensure a successful/stable future. I have been fortunate to know Wonnina and watch her grow as a person. She has developed her sense of self-worth and determination,” she said.

Wonnina reports that her life has improved dramatically. “I’m more responsible now,” she said. “I’m even a better mother to my kids.” Her next goals are to buy a home and to start her own towing company.

Reflecting on her journey, Wonnina said, “All the love they showed my kids and me at Catholic Charities made me look at life differently. They were there when I had nobody else to turn to. I am not only blessed to have gotten this chance, but very grateful to God for allowing Catholic Charities to be a part of my life.”

Tenant Based Rental Assistance Project

Catholic Charities’ HOME TBRA (Tenant-Based Rental Assistance) Project is a rapid re-housing program designed to address the immediate housing crisis of individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness in DuPage County. Program participants are quickly placed in housing and connected with a Catholic Charities case manager who provides the intensive support needed to maximize self-sufficiency. The rapid re-housing case manager provides case management and rapid-re-housing services, housing advocacy/counseling, consultation, crisis intervention and follow-up services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness in DuPage County. The TBRA is essential for housing individuals and families who are vulnerable and have severe service needs.

To learn more about the programs and services provided by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, please visit