Port Ministries’ Hope House resident shares her words

Sara Haines playing basketball during adult open gym. (The Gate/Gloria Talamantes)

Sara playing basketball at the adult open gym. (The Gate/Gloria Talamantes)


I don’t know what made me turn around and introduce myself, but I did. She had soft but confident eyes, and there was something about her that demanded honesty and respect from me. “Me llamo Sara,” I said with a smile. I’m glad I was able to tone down my nerve-induced enthusiasm. The contrast of my over-the-top friendliness to her simple hello already made me red in the face. Not peppy, she was very kind and real, which made me realize the mask I was wearing to cover up my “not enough-ness.”

She asked me if I was with the Franciscans, and I responded in English, but she informed me that she didn’t understand and her English was limited. It was my turn, to be honest, and real, so I slid off the mask of self-assuredness and out came my own limited Spanish.

“No, trabajo en Port Ministries a 51st y Hermitage, y vivo en Hope House.”

“You have housing for people?”

“No, pero tenemos otros servicios,” I said, but before I was able to explain la comunidad intencional, she wanted to hear about what else we did at the Port. I told her about the Bread Truck, Free Clinic, and las classes (the only word I knew in Spanish to describe the People’s School workshops.)

She was interested in the Zumba and health workshop I was leading, “Where? What time?” This excited me, but I still couldn’t tell what she made of me. I figured the fact that the conversation was still going was promising. I learned that she had daughters who not only would be interested but also were similar to me in age.

This time, my enthusiasm was genuine and seemed to shock her. (I had discovered other young people at my parish, had enough Spanish to be able to talk more about her daughters who she loved, and found people who were also interested in wellness!).

As I reflect on this encounter, what struck me was the way she symbolized the Back of the Yards community that I have been blessed to be a part of for almost two years. To take from a mural in our gym, this community is simple, humble, and pure. Real. Genuine. Authentic. The “not enough” I felt, the painful insufficiency I wanted to cover up, was supposed to be there—it was space reserved for God and others—and only gets filled if I’m real.

Our own little community in the Hope House confirms this. Presently, the Hope House consists of five young adults of varying professions call Hope House “home.” Our thirst for community, service, faith, and social justice brought us here. We stay together by carving out the time for each other and supporting the mission of the Port by aligning each resident’s sweet spot of passion and skill with that of the community.

I’ve found that the simplicity of our space has created a positive environment for prayer and relationships. We gather for our bi-monthly house meetings, which include some sort of community building, such as a meal or game, reflect, pray, talk together.

There’s a healthy dose of shenanigans, jokes, and the occasional magic trick. But in the simple, there is space to encounter the other, to have real conversations and be challenged by this community.

My experience thus far leads me to believe that intentional community hinges on a commitment to making time for the other, and ultimately, for God, and takes consistent work. If we do not choose where we invest our time, the rush of the world claims it, so we commit to meet two times per month, and thank God for all the small moments of “community” that happen in between.

The humility I see in this community challenges me daily to let go of the feeling of not enough. It’s such a lie. I look around and realize it’s in simplicity, in poverty of heart where we become enough because space is actually room for God and room for one another.

God is enough for so many people here, so he can definitely be enough for me if I am willing, to be honest with Him and put down the mask.



About Sara Haines

Born, raised, and educated in Illinois, I’ve called Chicago home for almost 2 years now. Officially, my background is in social work; unofficially, it’s in hooping, dabbling with art, reading good books, exploring and educating others on holistic living, and learning to be a good friend.

*Ditch This, Shake That! is a Zumba/wellness workshop held at The Port Friday’s, 7-8:30 pm