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Life Transformed Award

Jill Markussen

Bridge Communities Graduate

Jill Markussen lost her job in April 2007 and by December, she and her children had lost their home.  Jill and her children represent the "new face of homelessness."

Jill entered the Bridge Communities Program and quickly enrolled in College of DuPage.  She knew she wanted to relaunch her career as a care-giver.  Through educational testing, she decided to pursue a human services degree with special emphasis in working with senior citizens and domestic violence. 

While at College of DuPage Jill bravely shared her story of homelessness with her classmates and instructors.  Soon she found herself collaborating with her fellow students and faculty to organize a very successful symposium, "The New Face of Homeless."  The symposium caught the attention of many on the College campus and is now planned as an annual event.

Shortly after graduation from Bridge Communities' Jill's apartment burned, leaving her homeless for a second time.  Never down for long, Jill worked with College of DuPage to organize a Sleep Out Saturday event and continued her work and school studies.  "Jill Markussen is the kind of person who counts her blessings rather than cursing the darkness," says Joyce Hothan, executive director of Bridge Communities. "I have personally been in awe of the courage, resilience and faith that Jill has displayed in her incredible journey out of homelessness."

Jill's story and tireless volunteer efforts caught the attention of a national charity, LoveDrop.  She was invited to be the recipient of LoveDrop's very first fundraising drive.  Jill was honored in January by LoveDrop with a reception in her newly found town home. 

Jill openly shares her story with community and school groups and truly believes her experience has changed her for the better.  We are privileged to honor Jill Markussen, a woman whose transformation deserves celebrating.

"As a mentor, I feel that I have received more than I have given...the goal of a mentor might be to help families find resources to further their education, get out of debt, and plan for the future, but one soon realizes that it is the social and emotional support that is most essential.  Being a mentor has taught me patience, compassion, and perseverance.  It has changed my definition of success and increased my gratitude toward family, friends and God."