Meet Sije

Cara Staff

She’s transforming her life at Cara, thanks to your support.

Sije is a single mom with three young kids. She is a smart, motivated, and ready for a new beginning. However, time after time, her criminal background put up a barrier, preventing her from landing jobs she was more than qualified for. After continued struggles, Sije felt she would never find her opportunity. That was until her parole officer suggested Cara.

Coming to Cara, Sije sought out a new professional path, but she left with so much more. “Cara opened my eyes and opened doors I never thought could be opened.”

The first door led Sije to Cleanslate, Cara’s social enterprise that creates transitional employment opportunities in exterior maintenance. Through Cleanslate, Sije diversified her on-the-job experience and took pride in bettering neighborhoods throughout Chicago. From Cleanslate, the next door was Chicago Transit Authority’s Second Chance Program. Sije was very excited about the prospect of working for the CTA, but this door proved more difficult to open.

Sije was slated to start at the CTA in late March. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and her start date was pushed back by several weeks. She had been counting on the income to pay essential bills and maintain a safe home for her family. She soon began to worry about how she would keep the utilities on.

With support from Cara’s Emergency Fund, and a generous grant through the Family Independence Initiative, Sije was able to apply for emergency assistance. “I was surprised when I heard I was approved. I never get approved for anything!” The support gave Sije the boost she needed to keep her head above water while she waited to start her new job. “It got me over the hurdle to my first paycheck and I am grateful.”

Today, Sije is gainfully employed with the CTA as a Bus Servicer Apprentice, where she ensures buses and facilities are clean and that her fellow #FrontlineFriends can safely get to work throughout Chicago. She regularly meets with her Cara career coach and is working on building a more stable life for herself and her children. “Every person who comes through Cara’s doors walks out as changed, and I am proof.”

Your support means more people like Sije transform their lives. Please consider making a financial gift to Cara at www.carachicago.org/donate.