Community | Fall 2018

Mercy Home for Boys and Girls: Helping homeless youth

Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
Rev. L. Scott Donahue, president and CEO, Mercy Home for Boy and Girls.

How Mercy Home helps Chicago’s youth find a new path in life

Most of the young people who come to Mercy Home for Boys & Girls arrive in a fragile state. Their lives have been filled with so much trauma and despair that their trust has been violated, says the Rev. L. Scott Donahue, president and CEO of the Chicago nonprofit.

“Many of these children have been physically, emotionally or sexually abused,” Donahue says. “One of the things we work on is to try to establish a sense of trust.”

It’s a labor of love Donahue has been committed to for 27 years. “Once trust has been established and they really know that we’re here for them, miracles take place,” Donahue says.

What Mercy Home does

Mercy Home was founded 130 years ago by two priests who came to Chicago from the East Coast and were concerned about the number of homeless boys in the city. They approached the bishop of Chicago, who gave his blessing for them to attempt to help, but added that he had no money to contribute to the cause. The priests persevered, found donors and Mercy Home began its noble work, which spreads across three campuses to help both boys and girls.

“We take a young person into the program, we assist them, walk with them and wrap our arms around them until they are living independently and providing and contributing back into society,” Donahue says.

How its people help

While residential care is a large part of what Mercy Home does, programs such as Friends First and AfterCare extend these efforts out into the community. Friends First functions like Big Brothers Big Sisters with trained mentors helping individuals in impoverished communities. AfterCare offers guidance to students who have gone on to college or other post-secondary education, as well as caregivers.

Mercy Home does not take government funding, primarily so it can continue to helps kids who would otherwise age out of the system.

“Once you’re part of the Mercy Home family, you’re always part of the family,” he says. 

In pursuit of its mission, Mercy Home has received strong support from Huntington. The bank has supported its annual Graduates’ Luncheon, which raises the resources needed to provide youth with an education.

About the organization

Name: Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
City: Chicago, Illinois
Phone: (312) 738-7560
Mission: To break the cycle of neglect and abuse for troubled children and teens in Chicago.

How you can help

Visit the Mercy Home for Boys & Girls website to learn more about Mercy Home and ways to supports its work.