Mona Lisa Walker

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

Mona Lisa Walker 

Mona Lisa has been homeless on and off since 2007.

“My goals are to go back to work and get an apartment.” – Mona Lisa Walker

 Mona Lisa was raised the youngest of five children on the West Side of Chicago. She graduated high school and went on to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

“I like helping people,” says Mona Lisa.

In the early 90s, Mona Lisa spent a year and a half in jail for selling drugs. With a criminal background, she was no longer able to work as a CNA.

Mona Lisa was able to secure employment through an organization that helps people with criminal backgrounds find job opportunities. She’s worked as a factory worker, a day laborer and she has had seasonal work through the Chicago Streets and Sanitation.

Married since 1989, Mona Lisa has a daughter, a son and a grandson. Her husband is diabetic and needs oxygen so he lives with his sister who takes care of him. Mona Lisa is not able to live with her husband at her sister-in-law’s house. Although, she does go to visit him.

Rather, Mona Lisa is homeless and lives at the Franciscan Outreach shelter on Chicago’s West Side. At the shelter, her basic needs are met, including food, shelter and clothing. She also has access to the resources that help her get the assistance she needs to make positive changes in her life.

“My case manager is helping me with housing and job opportunities,” says Mona Lisa. “I also go to the Motivational support groups.” “It’s very encouraging. They help me to stay positive. And, I don’t give up hope.”

Mona Lisa gains experience through part-time volunteer work at the shelter. She works as a kitchen assistant preparing meals and serving guests.

“We get along with each other at the shelter,” says Mona Lisa. “I always keep everyone laughing. I’m a humorous person. I love to make people smile.”

Mona Lisa Walker is a part of the Franciscan Outreach Mobile Gallery – A Portrait of Homelessness in Chicago