April Knox was the featured speaker at the 2018 Cara Summer Social. The below is taken from her speech that evening.
I was a national-award-winning writer with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia College. My future looked bright, and I must mention, that I was young and very cute!
However, I could not have predicted nor written the next chapter of my life. My mother began showing signs of dementia. When she began suffering from this disease, I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life. I chose to put my career and my dreams aside and take care of her for more than ten years.
I lost my mother in 2016. Although I knew she had been in decline for more than a decade, it was still such a jarring adjustment losing her. She was just gone like that, and after taking care of her for so long, I was tired.
I was devastated. I was lost. I was depressed. I didn’t know how to pick up my life and move forward. I had spent every dime I had on her care and left both homeless and heartbroken. Because of the great sacrifice that I made for my mother, I was now in my forties with no family of my own.
In the spring of 2017, a social worker referred me to Cara. I enrolled in the 4-week Transformations training. Every morning while I was getting myself ready for class, I could feel my mother’s presence, and it brought back memories of her getting me ready for school as a little girl. She would tell me that I was gonna have a great day!
Cara helped me realize who I really am. I am strong, creative, and worthy of the best that life has to offer. Thanks to Cara, my mind was being renewed and I finally believed in myself again.
Cara connected me to Hotel Indigo for full-time employment. I dove right in with my smile and positive attitude. I learned as much as I could in my new administrative role. I was never late and did not miss a day of work. They would call me to come in when one of my co-workers could not. I was able to get my own apartment and no longer had to be homeless.
After a few months of employment, the hotel announced its final plan for a complete renovation. There was noise, water shut offs, elevator outages, and the restaurant and bar were both closed.
Suddenly, due to the low occupancy of the hotel, my full-time employment was cut to almost nothing. I contacted Cara to let them know that once again, I needed work.
Cara’s rental assistance program helped me pay my rent for one month. I was given a gift card to Target, so my little doggie, Muffyn, and I could eat. The Cara Connects team sprang into action and secured temporary work for me with Habitat Real Estate Management and Acquisition. I was so grateful that Cara found work for me once again. I dove right in to learn everything I could on the job.
What was ironic about my new temporary job was that they hired me because the building had just finished the first phase of a major renovation. Now, here I am almost 9 months later with two jobs.
I still work at the newly renovated swanky Gold Coast Claridge House Hotel and the Habitat Company, who offered me a permanent position and sent me to real estate classes. I am very proud to announce that I passed the Illinois Real Estate Licensing test. Today, I am a licensed Illinois leasing agent.
Let me tell you what I see outside my office window everyday. The building next door is under renovation. What I didn’t realize is that my own life is under a major renovation. Cara has definitely removed the dust and uncovered who I am.
My name is April Memorie Knox. I am confident, caring, compassionate, and still a cute woman who just needed a positive push forward in life.
Thank you to every single person in this room. Because of your continued kindness, support, and generosity, you are changing and renovating lives. Cara taught me how to persevere and have the confidence that I needed to begin living my best life. Just like the end of a renovation, I know that I am going to turn out beautifully.
Celebrate our participants and alumni at this year’s first-ever virtual Cara Summer Social presented by Slalom, Advanced Group, and The Beebe Family on Thursday, August 27, 2020. Join us for an evening of food and beverage demos, music, and special guests hosted by the Cara Associate Board. RSVP and consider making a donation that will be matched dollar for dollar thanks to our friends at Creation Investments. Visit https://carachicago.org/social.