Anna sought help at HACC’s Employment Resource Center and earned an internship with the CTA Second Chance Program. In 2016, she was offered a full-time job! As she nears her first year on the job, HACC celebrates her success.

Anna lives with her elderly mother. Her full-time job as a bus cleaner at the CTA means that she can support them both. “Everytime I look at her eyes I can see her getting older,” Anna said. “She’s gonna need me. Now, it’s my turn [to support her].”

This has been a long road. As a child, Anna said she did not feel cared for and lived in poverty with five siblings. Her clothes and hair were not well-kept. Rejected by her peers, she began using drugs like the more popular high school youth. For the 30 years that followed Anna struggled to get sober.

At 52 years old, she is filled with forgiveness for her mother who also suffered from alcohol addiction. Through immense commitment both women were able to work through their trauma. Her mother recovered and Anna found stability at the Employment Resource Center and mentorship through Alcoholics Anonymous.

Today, Anna says she loves herself and has faith in her own abilities “I appreciated [HACC’s help] because I knew somebody cared. I worked hard. And I did all the things I needed to do…and the door opened,’ she said.

At Anna’s age, she said a bus cleaning job isn’t easy– especially working nights cleaning 26 buses from top to bottom. But she is excited to go to work after so many years of underemployment. It’s a union job and she feels stable for the first time in her life.

Written and photographed by Rachel Hoffman