May 23Mindy Taylor Comes Full Circle
Mindy Taylor grew up in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Her family lived in a church-owned building, where her mom volunteered in the church’s feeding program. Called “The Dinner Guest,” this soup kitchen served hundreds of people experiencing homelessness every day, including veterans who had seen their housing shut down by the government. Mindy’s mom would help make meals and Mindy would often help to serve them to the Uptown community.
“It would be every day at 3 PM,” Mindy said. “For residents and the church, we had breakfast and then lunch at noon and then The Dinner Guest program started somewhere around 2 PM or 3 PM and hundreds of people would come to eat.”
Fast forward to 2023 where Mindy finds herself sitting in her first-floor office, which happens to be in the exact same building where she spent her childhood. The building is now home to Mercy Housing Lakefront’s The Miriam Apartments, where she is the Resident Services Manager II, supporting staff and residents who work and live in five different Mercy Housing Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) communities in Uptown.
Growing up in Chicago’s Uptown Neighborhood
“You know, it was fun,” Mindy shared. “There were other families living there, so a lot of my friends that I grew up with, lived in the same building. So, you know, hey, Mom, can I go say ‘hi’ to Lisa, who lives on the 4th floor? Yeah, sure. It was like a small town, basically.”
On days when Mindy didn’t have a babysitter, she would join her mom and other church members, put on an apron, and stand on a bucket behind the dinner line to help serve the food.
“I had strong roots in this neighborhood and with the people in Uptown,” she reflected. “There are a lot of people in Uptown I still know just from living growing up here. Like I know the local Ace Hardware is still there and I still know everybody by name.”
Expanding Her Wings
In her late teens, Mindy decided to explore the country. “I had grown up in such a unique way that I really wanted to explore,” she explained.
She spent a year living in Seattle when she was 18 and in Los Angeles when she was 19 years old. She also spent time in Minneapolis before returning to Seattle for two years, where she enrolled in a community college and began to take classes.
Her journey took her back to Chicago and then in 2001 she packed her bags and flew to Romania to volunteer. “I volunteered for the Osana Foundation and for an orphanage for children who had AIDS.” Mindy shared. The experience proved to be life-changing. Mindy returned to the States after a year eager to return to school. She enrolled in Truman Community College.
Mindy initially thought she wanted to be a nurse, but as she said, “I really don’t have a strong stomach for blood and all that stuff.” After considering a job in teaching, she visited with a career counselor who suggested she think about becoming a social worker. “The advisor explained it and it was like an ‘ah ha’ moment. My whole life made sense suddenly.” Mindy explained.
After receiving her master’s degree at the University of Illinois-Champaign where she studied Community Health and Urban Planning, she took a job at a homeless shelter and focused on community development, but her desire to find a position as a social worker continued to grow.
One day, she mentioned this to a friend working for the Department of Family and Support Services. Several months later, her phone rang with her friend on the other end. A social worker position had opened with Mercy Housing Lakefront. She said, “Yes,” and introduced Mindy to Mercy Housing Lakefront Vice President, Felix Matlock. Soon thereafter, Mindy was hired as a new Resident Services Manager.
Celebrating Three Years at Mercy Housing Lakefront
Miriam Apartments resident Antoinette shared this about Mindy: “Mindy is a good listener, she listens first, then looks through options available for each of the tenants’ situations individually. I appreciate that she follows up as well.”
“Sometimes you can go to a job and you’re just waiting for the hours to pass. But for me, because I have intention and purpose, I feel like I really belong,” Mindy explained.
Whether she is busy starting new projects like the stocking project that helps provide residents with new socks, gloves, and hats for the harsh Chicago winters or scheduling monthly Resident Services programming, or collecting dog food and other necessities for residents’ furry friends, Mindy is experiencing a full circle moment in her life, “What a privilege it is to do work I believe in and in a community, I hold close to my heart.”
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