Dear Partners and Friends,
I am pleased to present the accomplishments of Gads Hill Center in 2018; a momentous year for us, as we marked 121 years of working to build a stronger Chicago.
GHC was founded in the late 1800s, at the peak of the Gilded Age; a time of great economic inequalities. Chicago’s harsh working conditions and infamous exploitation of immigrants were immortalized in literature of the time. To begin to correct the enormous social injustices faced by many, Jane Addams and a group of progressive social workers started the Settlement House movement.
These are the roots of our history. Over time, the faces, clothes and languages of waves of diverse immigrant groups changed; from the Germans who came to pack the meat in the 1800s and the Bohemians who named Pilsen in the early 1900s, to the Mexicans who were recruited in World War II to fill vacant jobs, and many others.
My own story reflects an experience like these immigrants of yesterday - only the years, countries of origin and circumstances of arrival differentiate us. In 1982, I came to Chicago at the age of 22 fleeing the civil war in Guatemala. I left in a hurry and my luggage was light, but my heart was heavy from the terrors of war and from knowing that I might never again see the people that I was leaving behind.
As a rising senior in college pursuing a degree in economics, I had big dreams; I wanted to change the economic and political system in Guatemala, to end the high rates of child mortality, the short life expectancy of women and the institutional racism that robbed indigenous people of their full humanity. I saw many of my friends and classmates die fighting for justice, equality and opportunity in Guatemala.
I came to Chicago in search of a place where I could rest, heal my broken spirit and restore hope. But I couldn’t find peace. The images of the war were indelible; they were like tattoos on my heart. Yet, I was grateful for being alive. I had hope that things would be better.
I enrolled in Truman College to learn English, and there I started building a sense of community with the refugees that I met from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. We did not know English but we all fluently spoke the language of loss and grief. We shared meals and cried over the pictures we brought from our homelands. I was now felt less alone, as I had found a place where I belonged.
As the years went by, I fell in love and got married. America gave me a safe place to build my life, raise a beautiful family and a cultivate a community of valued friendships. In turn, I made the commitment to give back to this country what I had received—to open doors for others who need opportunities.
The American immigrant experience is reflected in some of the stories you will read in the pages that follow. As Chicagoans in search of a better life, we are the survivors, the dreamers, the pioneers. It is our nature to take risks. We are bound by our determination to face difficult odds to strive towards the same vision – to bring about a future we can believe in for the generations to come.
We are thankful for the resilient families who make GHC’s community stronger. As we share their stories, we take time to reflect on all we have achieved, the challenges we face and the hard work that lies ahead to ensure that all individuals, regardless of where they start, will achieve their full potential. Will you join us in this journey?
With deepest gratitude for your support,
Chief Executive Officer
2019 Annual Report
2018 Annual Report
2017 Annual Report
2016 Annual Report
GADS HILL CENTER
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