Daybreak of Lisle celebrates 30 years of serving homeless families

Submitted by Daybreak of Lisle
Updated 8/22/2019 10:19 AM

Daybreak of Lisle had humble beginnings in August 1989, when a group of volunteers came together to help a family in extreme need.

"We started working with just one distressed family," said Sr. Mary Bratrsovsky, OSB, president of the organization. "Due to a divorce and drug abuse, the family had lost their housing. A group of volunteers from the St. Joan of Arc Parish in Lisle, in partnership with the Benedictine Sisters, organized to find them an apartment and paid the rent until the family could get back on its feet."


Today, Daybreak volunteers -- there are no paid employees -- manage seven apartments in Naperville and Woodridge. All total, 98 families have been helped by the group.

"Each family is supported rent-free for up to two years as they struggle to become self-sufficient," said Mary Ellen Durbin, one of Daybreak's founders, along with her late husband, Ron. "But to qualify, each family must show a real desire to achieve financial independence.

"Our program begins with screenings by Bridge Communities and Catholic Charities," said Ed Hatfield, program director. "Each family has regular meetings with a professional case manager and works with volunteer mentors who help the families acquire jobs at a living wage, address child care, secure health and educational resources, build financial skills and reduce debt.

"Some of these families have become homeowners in the process," Hatfield said. "All have been able to regain a sense of self-sufficiency. Hundreds of volunteers from the Lisle community have contributed time, financial help and physical labor to make the lives of the Daybreak families a little easier."

In the beginning, the group just wanted to reach out a helping hand to families who had fallen on hard times and homelessness.

"Little did we know how our lives would be changed," Durbin said. "Through our relationships with some of the most vulnerable people in our community, we learned how it really doesn't take much for our lives to fall apart. A medical crisis, a divorce, the loss of a job and we all could be in a crisis situation. So, for us, Daybreak has become a blessing in all our lives."

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