Administrative Assistant
One of Cara Connects’ first employees, Denise launched her career in 2014 as a temp file clerk with The Habitat Company, which is one of Cara Connects’ first employment partners. Working at multiple Habitat locations, Denise quickly learned to effectively manage the workflow in each office. She was soon managing repair work orders, collecting rent, and assisting with other tasks. “It’s not my job” was never part of her vocabulary. Appreciating the long-term opportunities at Habitat, Denise set her sights on a permanent job.

She took Excel classes, earned her Illinois State Housing Certification, and scored 96 on her Rent Calculation Test – the first Habitat employee to score so high. All that, plus Denise’s work ethic, commitment, and her thorough understanding of how each office worked, positioned her for a full-time position. So, with her supervisor’s encouragement, Denise applied for the position of Administrative Assistant. To no one’s surprise, she got it. And since then, Denise has been promoted two more times within the company. Seems pretty clear, Denise has found her natural Habitat. Congratulations, Denise.
Director of Fund Development
Since returning to Chicago from the East Coast in 2013, Linda had been unable to secure a quality, long-term position. Then, in the summer of 2016, Linda turned to Cara Connects after attending their “mobile onboarding” – a pop-up training that is co-located in various community-based organizations to capture new talent for our contract staffing firm.

Linda’s non-for-profit experience quickly got her placed in a temporary administrative role with LISC. Then, as a result of her deepened experience and with LISC’s support and encouragement, Linda was connected with an opportunity at Northwest Side Housing Center in Belmont-Cragin. Leveraging her new network, her job performance, and Cara Connects’ support, Linda landed the position. In December 2016, Linda joined Northwest Side Housing Center as Director of Fund Development. Please join us as we celebrate Linda reaching one year on the job. Linda’s success is another example of dedication, belief, and the power of connecting.
Bus Servicer Apprentice
In 1994, Alton received a mandatory life-without-parole sentence for possession and conspiracy to traffic crack cocaine. Prior to that, the 25-year-old had never spent a single day of his life in prison and even the judge who sentenced Alton felt the required punishment was “farcical.” President Obama commuted Alton’s sentence on December 18, 2015.

At the suggestion of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Alton came to Cara that following spring, looking to transform his life. Alton initially struggled with coming out of his shell at Cara, having spent 21 years in prison. But with the help of Cara staff, Alton overcame this challenge to learn to trust in himself and others again. Soon, he was comfortable enough that he was always speaking at or leading the morning Motivations. Alton used that new-found confidence and determination to get placed in a temporary janitorial position with Habitat before ultimately securing a Bus Servicer Apprentice position with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Today, Alton proudly talks about all the milestones he’s hit since 2016 – reconnecting with his family, getting his license, buying a car, getting engaged. He remains a vocal advocate of criminal justice reform legislation and is celebrating one year on the job with the CTA. “Cara is a great place for someone who wants a second chance at life to go through. It will help you build your morale, be a motivator, and bring back that person that’s inside that needs to be out.”
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