Honoring Maurice: A Resilient Father

By LIFT on April 19, 2015

Categories: Real Stories

“The housing search is like a full-time job. I come through these doors at LIFT because… everything that I need is right here, I’m here to focus on what’s important: raising my daughter in a safe environment.”

When Maurice came to LIFT, he had recently received full custody of his five year old daughter and was living in a temporary family shelter on the north side. As a single father, he was determined to get her enrolled in a quality school on the north side where she would be in a supportive environment, receive tutoring, and be surrounded by caring staff. Talking to Maurice, his face lights up when he speaks about his daughter, describing her as “a character, who is very outgoing and friendly with people and will talk to anyone. She’s just like a little lady.”

Maurice strives to be a caring and loving father and to be the provider for his daughter like his mother was for him and his siblings growing up. Maurice grew up in a single parent household on the south side of Chicago. Being one of ten children in a four bedroom home was “not pretty but it was something that had to happen coming from a big family.” Maurice’s mother was the provider for the family. She made countless sacrifices and was his role model. He described her as “smart, intelligent, sweet, family-oriented, having high morals and values and being tough on the discipline side.”

As Maurice pursued higher education, he was met with numerous obstacles. While studying theatre and production techniques, Maurice reflects that it was difficult to stay focused on his studies as he was confronted with constant racism and intimidation. “There were riots and I was being moved from one dorm to another because guys did not want to live with me because of my color. Some days I would come home and there would be shaving cream and a note on my door with threats and racial slurs.” From a young age, the resiliency to overcome adversity and an ability to maintain a sense of possibility were instilled in Maurice. These have been essential values he has relied on during his work with LIFT searching for safe stable housing for him and his daughter.

Maurice is currently working two part-time jobs with the Department of Human Services and Chicago Commons to support his daughter and save money so they can afford their own place. Maurice comes to LIFT week after week to collaborate on his goal of finding safe housing. Maurice says working “at LIFT has given me structure and kept me on track… and I can’t do anything but move up and go forward.” What’s more, Maurice has built strong relationships with the staff along the way. He reflects, “I just felt that with other providers I worked with I was more of a number, like a stat, and here I felt like I was family. I was somebody here, they knew my name, knew my situation, knew my child, knew the struggles that I was going through and that’s why I felt comfortable coming here because it was inspiring just to know that somebody cared and I felt that. It made me realize that I had to keep coming to LIFT so that I could feel uplifted. Everybody was nurturing, happy. Everybody enjoyed working with me and I enjoyed working with them. Everybody was a unit here, like family.”

Every step of the way, Maurice has his daughter’s future in mind. Maurice described a recent conversation he had with his daughter. “She was talking to me the other day saying that ‘I wish we had our own place so that we could bring in our own food.’ That was so important to me because she didn’t ask for a bike or want a new dress, she just said ‘I wish we had our own place so that we could bring food home.’ That touched my heart.”

Maurice plans to tirelessly work toward his goals in and outside of his meetings at LIFT. His most important goal? Meeting the needs of his daughter and affording her the opportunities that were not available for him growing up. “I want to continue to keep working hard to achieve this goal for my daughter. I know that if my daughter sees that I am happy, it will make her happy and we will be moving forward together. That’s the attitude I have, I’m a true Chicagoan, that’s what we do.”