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Outreach & Health
In the mid-1980s, The Night Ministry met a homeless 16 year old girl originally from Atlanta. She had run away from an abusive home situation. She was living in an abandoned building. At one point, she was beaten up and went to a hospital for treatment. She was turned away because she would not give information about her parents. Because her injuries were not life threatening, she went without medical care. This encounter prompted us to think specifically about the importance of health care.

Our encounters with people on Chicago’s nighttime streets showed us that there was a need for accessible health care. Many of those we were serving through street outreach lacked access or were afraid to access traditional health care services. It is difficult for a person to learn to make healthier choices if they are battling ill health along with the other difficulties in their lives.

A few of our staff attended a street outreach conference in Toronto, where we learned about mobile health facilities. We became convinced that we should offer some kind of healthcare since so many of the people we were serving through street outreach lacked access or were afraid to access traditional health care.

In 1989, we began our Health Outreach Program with a converted 27-foot RV. We replaced the bedroom with a health exam room. Three people took the program to three neighborhoods, four nights a week.

In 2005, we purchased a new, customized 38-foot Health Outreach Bus to replace our old one.

We continued to grow our Outreach & Health Ministry. We have increased staff and volunteers, so we are better able to serve those who visit our bus. We continually work to improve and enhance our operations and equipment. Continual staff training is a priority. Collaborations with other agencies and the City of Chicago have greatly improved our ability to reach clients and potential clients.

Word of mouth is still the number one way that youth and adults find out about our Health Outreach Program.

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