Sheryl Bartol, third from left, with three other Leadership Evanston participants (2013-2014).

applying leadership skills to address homelessness

When a dedicated community member decided to make an impact in Evanston, her first action was to participate in Leadership Evanston's Signature Program.

Exploring significant community issues in Evanston through community-based projects is a key component of the Leadership Evanston Signature program.

one individual's desire to engage

In 2013, when Sheryl Bartol was looking for a way to make an impact in Evanston, beyond her already deep commitments to her children’s schools and her faith community she decided to participate in Leadership Evanston, hoping to learn more about current community challenges and how to make change. She didn’t realize that she would be the instigator of a life changing effort by the end of her year participating in the Leadership Evanston Signature Program.

leadership project on affordable housing

As part of the Signature program, participants work on a project team with fellow class members — Sheryl and her team were focused on affordable housing. Through their research, they became aware that young homeless people had no options for housing in Evanston, and they developed a beginning plan to address this need. When the Leadership year ended, Sheryl stayed particularly committed to this issue. She and her husband joined with two other friends to form an LLC and purchased a building. At the same time, she worked with Curt’s Café founder Susan Trieschmann to better understand the situation of the young men working at Curt’s.

bringing an idea to fruition

By December 2014, Sheryl had formed a partnership with Curt’s Café and worked with the Connections for the Homeless board to establish the Our House project, serving homeless young men, as a part of Connections. She joined the Connections board as well.

With focused fundraising and careful planning, Our House opened its doors in August 2015, housing five formerly homeless young men and serving them with supports to help them build the foundation for future success. Sheryl remains deeply committed to Our House and the issue of youth homelessness. She attributes her commitment and her action to her Leadership Evanston experience.