Once Homeless Herself, Woman Leads Cod Symposium To Help Others | DuPage, Illinois | Daily Herald
Jill Markussen was a senior executive in the mortgage industry, but her company filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and all employees got the pink slip.
Months later, she and her four youngest children lost their home and entered transitional housing provided by Glen Ellyn-based Bridge Communities.
In an effort to start fresh and with the support of Bridge, Markussen decided to go back to school. She already enjoyed volunteering at nursing homes, so she thought she could start a new career in the human services field.
One class she took was “Introduction to Human Services,” which touched on the topic of homelessness, among others.
For many students in the class, homelessness meant the “mentally ill, bag ladies and winos,” Markussen said.
“It’s not families. It’s not suburbanites,” she said. “It’s usually (people) under the bridge.”
But for Markussen, being homeless was a very real experience, and her professor, Maryann Krieglstein, encouraged her to share it with the rest of the class.
“She finally came out and said, ‘I’m homeless.’ People were shocked because they carried all these myths about bag ladies,” Krieglstein said. “Here was someone who looked like them. It was really a wake-up call for our students.”
via Daily Herald