Our Mission is to help one person at a time so that each individual gets the Respect, Attention, and Focus they need to walk away with dignity !!! We help those in need Man, Woman, and Child to receive things they cannot get on their own.
Message from Our Founder
I grew up in poverty, living in low income neighborhoods my whole life on the west side of Chicago, watching my parents struggle to make ends meet. I didn’t realize we were poor until I was in the 3rd grade, and a classmate gave me her sweater because she saw me cold outside with nothing on.
A 6th grade teacher knew I didn’t have much as well, and she would wait until class was over to pull me aside to sneak small bags of clothing for me to take home. The older I got the more I realized that I must look different. I wondered why people were always giving my mom clothes, why are we waiting in line for bags of food? It then hit me that we were poor. That is when the humiliation set in. From then on I grew up being embarrassed of the situation we were in. I was embarrassed of who was looking at us, and the conditions we lived in.
Our gas, and electric were always off, my brothers and I were going to school without baths, and depending on school meals to feed us throughout the day. This was our life style. My father was an alcoholic, and both my parents were hard on us they were very abusive. My mother seemed to be the one to take us all down as she was mentally, physically, and verbally abusive.
I was molested several times, by several different family members which she knew about one, and never did anything about it; I will also tell you that my very own mother allowed our elderly male neighbor to fondle me for money. This money would be handed over to my dad for beer, and cigarettes. My mother called me harsh curse names that no mother should be calling a child. She would say things like, “I wish I didn’t have kids”, " Wish you weren't born", you kids make me sick and yes even saying she hated us.
My life didn’t get any better, in fact it got worse. When I turned sixteen I couldn’t take the abuse any longer so I ran away from home. I became homeless by choice. I didn’t have a clue where I was going to stay I just knew I wasn’t going to stay under the same roof as my parents. I have a handicap brother, and the other one is in prison. My brother begged me to take him along. He was fifteen at the time, and the youngest of us three. He had it the hardest, and though it broke my heart to leave, I had to save myself.
A year later he ended up in jail where he remains to this very day. I blame myself. Perhaps I could have saved him from a life gone bad, a cycle my mom drove him to. I dropped out of High School to turn to the streets where I met a crowd that befriended me. I joined a gang where I was showed a whole new world of freedom, drugs, sex, and no rules. I got hooked on cocaine, smoking crack then moved onto smoking Sherms (wicked sticks) an addiction that led me to do things. It was a life of hustling, solicitation for my fixes. This life had me sleeping in and outside of places such a school arched doorway, hallways of opened doors to private homes, anyone who let me lay on their floor, and enclosed gangways to buildings.
I ended up moving in with my drug dealer who took me under his wing. He was ten years older than me and he gave me a roof over my head for about four months until he got arrested for murder. Once again I became homeless. I went back to the hustle until I couldn’t do it any longer as I was four months pregnant from the drug dealer that took me in I then had no where to go but back home to my parents.
There are so many stories I could tell you, but will save them for a rainy day. I just wanted to provide some insight into my upbringing to help you understand why it is that I do what I do. In my world, the people I help are no different from me, and that is why I am able to understand them mentally, and emotionally because I led a life to seek out love, acceptance, and comfort to ease my pain through addiction.
Meet the Team
Growing up in poverty, in an abusive home void of any compassion, I never thought my life would take me to this place: where I would be doing what I am doing today. As I grew, helping more and more people, it became a dream of mine to establish my own foundation, in order to to serve others by helping those in need. I grew up wishing there was a Humble Hearts to come help me, rescue and lift me in times of humiliation and hopelessness.
I became homeless by choice. The street, as ugly as my life had become, was preferable to the abuse at my parents’ hands. I walked away from the street when I found a new reason for living: my daughter.
I work full time, but run Humble Hearts as an unpaid volunteer on nights and weekends, feeding the homeless 3-4 nights a week, collecting food, clothing, furniture and other items, making deliveries and creating special events to support them. It is my goal to one day run Humble Hearts full-time and be able to quit my day job, so I can dedicate all my efforts to helping people who are struggling everyday to find a reason to survive.
I will never forget where I came from and that is why I named my company “Humble Hearts”. It is a daily, personal reminder to me to stay focused and genuinely help those in need. My goal is to invest in those that I help individually so that they get all the attention needed to feel special and know that someone relates to their situation. I want to change humiliation into dignity with comforting smiles. To show that no matter where you came from, it doesn’t mean you have to remain there; it just means you have to work to get to that new beginning a little harder than others. Humble Hearts is a part of that beginning, and I am willing to help because I believe in chances, and I believe that God wants us all to help each other with compassion. Humble Hearts is not a religious foundation, but because I carry God in me, this leads me to help mankind – We are a humanitarian charity work in God’s name
I am a recent graduate of DePaul University’s College of Science and Health, majoring in psychology with a concentration in human services and a minor in anthropology. I currently attend The Chicago School of Professional Psychology where I am working towards obtaining a master’s degree in forensic psychology.
I have worked and volunteered in both legal and counseling settings. While I am not yet able to offer therapy to clients of Humble Hearts, in the meantime I am able to offer the professional skills and strategies that I have gained throughout my experience working with emotionally distressed individuals and my competence in resources for those in need of mental health assistance, especially considering the Medicaid population, which is highly underserved. I am especially interested in aiding those we service in getting their educations back on track, as many of the opportunities in today’s job market require at least a high school diploma or GED.
Through providing the resources and connections necessary for both the homeless youth and adult populations to obtain such certifications, we can better prepare them for opportunities that may arise or that they may gain the education and confidence to seek. Looking to help those in need from a holistic approach will allow me to contribute meaningful changes and positive growth for those we help.
Maria A. Castillo
Maria A. Castillo is a native of Chicago, currently residing in the Northwest Suburbs. During the day she works as a paralegal, and many evenings and weekends are spent helping those in need.
From a very young age she always wanted to help others and would do so whenever the chance arose. Her bi-cultural background and focus on community collaboration has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and leadership roles. Maria has been with Humble Hearts since February of 2014 and says that this experience has given her a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life for our community; one person at a time. From the moment she came aboard our organization, she has stepped in to play many roles, mainly focusing on running our events.
Customer service is one of our key elements: not only service with a smile but offering that open hand to carry out our mission in making sure everyone is treated with respect and dignity. Maria's giant smile and welcoming personality has definitely been appreciated and we are happy to have her on our team!
Director of Operations Support
To be announced...