“My goals are to stay positive and stay alive.”
– Danielle Discepola
Danielle is from New Jersey. She grew up with one older and one younger brother. She was always a good student and wanted to become a Veterinarian.
Unfortunately, Danielle got in with the wrong crowd and began using drugs.
“One day, I was in a circle of friends and they were using drugs. That’s how it started,” she said.
After high school, Danielle lived at home and worked as a waitress and receptionist while going to a Community College. She received an associate’s degree and went on to pre-veterinarian school but she failed out because of drugs.
“I was buying, using and selling drugs.” “I started on a few pills and then I was spending my entire paycheck on pain pills and weed,” she says.
Danielle’s family helped her to stop using drugs. But she was scared of falling back into doing drugs again. So, she put a few belongings into a backpack and left home.
“I was angry because of the decisions I had made and the burned relationships with family and friends,” Danielle says.
She took a train to Chicago because she had visited her older brother when he attended the University of Chicago so she felt she knew the area.
In Chicago, Danielle tried to get a job but couldn’t.
“I was begging on the streets,” she says. “I slept outside in parking garages.” “It hurts to sleep on the ground. It’s very cold. Sometimes your feet go numb so you just have to walk,” Danielle says.
Thankfully, Danielle found Franciscan Outreach.
“I have a bed and a safe place to go at night. And, I have dinner and breakfast and I’m warm,” says Danielle.
At Franciscan Outreach, Danielle also has case management support and access to the resources she needs to help her make positive changes in her life.
Danielle Discepola is a part of the Franciscan Outreach Mobile Gallery – A Portrait of Homelessness in Chicago.