Kendra Wilhoite

June 30, 2017
Julia Weegar
A Portrait of Homelessness in Chicago | Franciscan Outreach

Kendra Wilhoite

Kendra has been homeless on and off since 2003.

“My goals are to save money to get apartment and save enough to be secure for six to eight months if I were to lose my job. I also want to go back to school to get my Real Estate license.” – Kendra Wilhoite

 Kendra grew up on Chicago’s West Side. She is number 12 of 13 children. Her parents were married for 61 years until her father recently passed away.

“My mom is my best friend,” Kendra says. “She is so intelligent and she loves people. I go to visit her all the time. I think she’s lonely now that my dad is gone.”

After graduating from high school, Kendra took a few classes in business administration at Robert Morris College.

Kendra is a hard worker. She has held positions as a mail clerk, an office worker, a receptionist, in housekeeping, and at a call center.

In 2003, Kendra lost job and became homeless.

Today, she stays at the Franciscan Outreach shelter on Chicago’s West Side and works providing in-home care to seniors on the city’s South Side.

“I work 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. I take two busses there and back. It takes over an hour each way,” she says.

At Franciscan Outreach, Kendra is working on regaining the stability in her life. She has a bed each night, three meals a day, weekly meetings with her case manager, access to support groups, employment assistance and part-time volunteer work experience. She also has access to resources that provide specialized services, including primary and mental health care.

“My case manager gives me information about apartments and access to housing.” “He’s flexible and available during off hours.”

Kendra attends support group meetings and especially enjoys Steps to Empower Women (STEW).

“At the meetings, we work on our self-esteem,” she says. “They encourage us to set goals. They encourage us not to give up hope. This is not the end – there is a way.”

Kendra Wilhoite is a part of the Franciscan Outreach Mobile Gallery – A Portrait of Homelessness in Chicago