On Sunday October 27, 2019 H.O.M.E. honored the legacies of Helen Zabielski and Larry McCarthy at a dedication event for Blackhawk Manor.
The inspiration for the gathering was Andrea Raila, the property tax specialist and social justice advocate and champion of her client, the 87-year-old Helen Zabielski. Helen almost lost her building back in 2003 to the City, which tried to declare her mentally incompetent because she lived alone with a dozen or so cats in her 8-unit Belmont-Cragin building.
Back in 2003, Andrea Raila approached Larry McCarthy of H.O.M.E.’s Board of Directors about her client Helen. Fortunately, H.O.M.E. provided the solution.
In exchange for donating the building to H.O.M.E., we housed Helen at the Nathalie Salmon House while Larry led H.O.M.E.’s rehab of the building as affordable housing (thanks to funding from the Illinois Housing Development Authority). Ultimately she was able to return and live out the rest of her life at “Helen’s House” (now Blackhawk Manor), and today the building is home to 7 seniors and 1 family with children. Mark Brown even wrote about Helen and her story in the Chicago Sun Times.