Dating back to 1861, the Daughters of Charity have a long history of serving the people of Chicago. For nearly 150 years, the Daughters have responded to the needs of the greater Chicago area. Over the years, these ministries have taken various forms that include schools, shelters for women and children, social centers, day care centers, outreach programs, and parish ministries.
Following this long tradition of caring, the Daughters of Charity started St. Joseph Services (SJS) in June of 2001. The goal was to develop an outreach ministry that would work in partnership with area parishes, non-profit institutions and agencies to serve and support families and individuals at risk, collaborating with them to strengthen and develop their values and native skills in order to build the Kingdom of God. In the tradition of the first sisters who came to Chicago in 1861, Sr. Renee Rose, Sr. Mary Kay Tyrell, and Sr. Patricia Huffman were commissioned to begin this new ministry. During that first year they initiated partnerships with St. Mark’s Catholic Church, San Miguel School, and the Chicago Health Collaboration. This led to the development of three main programs.
SJS Community Center at Humboldt Park: In November 2001, SJS agreed to partner with St. Mark’s Catholic Church to transform their former convent into an outreach center that would serve the surrounding neighborhood. Many volunteer hours contributed to transforming the abandoned convent into an outreach center called Casa de Providencia. From February 2004 to October 2004, the Saving a Childhood Foundation provided an after school program at the SJS Community Center at Humboldt Park. In October 2004, after the major renovations were completed, the SJS Community Center at Humboldt Park began classes in English as a Second Language and opened a computer lab. In December 2005, the after school program called “Quiet Place” opened. In February 2006, spirituality programs were initiated. St. Joseph Services relocated from its original home of Casa de Providencia at St. Mark Parish to the Monsignor Thiele Center partnering with St. Aloysius Parish in August 2012. These programs continue to grow and develop in response to the needs of the community.
SJS Community Centers at Austin: In October 2001, SJS began a partnership with the Lasallian Christian Brothers who were opening San Miguel School – Gary Comer Campus, an inner-city school in the Austin community designed to provide high-risk children with innovative and accessible education. In June 2002, SJS and San Miguel School partnered to create a summer school program for forty children in the neighborhood. In September 2002, when San Miguel School opened, SJS hired a school social worker to provide social work wrap-around services to the students and their families that would complement the academic rigors of the school’s curriculum. Students set personal growth goals, and families were linked with resources that empowered them to create positive change in their lives. These services were expanded in December of 2005, when SJS opened the SJS Community Center at Austin as an extension of the after school program. Also located within the San Miguel School, the SJS Community Center at Austin provided year-round programs for community youth, Adult Basic Education and Basic Computer Skills classes, and an open gym on Sundays. In 2011, St. Joseph Services expanded its Austin reach through a partnership with St. Angela School, serving hundreds of youth in the After School Program there.
Chicago Health Collaboration: In October 2001, SJS began partnership discussions with Poor Handmaid Sister; these discussions would lead to the development of the Chicago Health Collaboration. In October of 2002, the Chicago Health Collaboration developed and implemented a Health Education for Life Program to go out into the Chicago-Northwest communities and reach those with health needs – linking them not only to health care, but to social services as well. In August 2004, Chicago Health Collaboration received a federal grant that allowed the program to be served through an existing clinic, and the program was turned over to Prime Care.