Over the years the Rowes have turned to H.O.M.E. several times for upkeep and repair including weatherization, painting and, just this fall, a new hot water heater. Your support for that work means the inside of the Rowes’ house in the Rosemoor community on the South Side, where they live with their dog, Lucky, is just as warm as their marriage of 55 years.
They say opposites attract and H.O.M.E. clients Karleen Rowe, 75 and her husband William, 78, are a case in point.
When they met, Chicago-born Karleen, 16, was a student at Wendell Phillips High School; her family ran a jitney cab business to help people travel around Bronzeville. William, 19, had just moved to Chicago from Aberdeen, Mississippi, to join his brothers working in the meatpacking industry.
The two tell the story of how they first saw each other at a skating rink on the South Side:
“I was with my best girlfriend,” Karleen recalls. When he saw me he said…”
“… Lawdy lawdy, look what’s coming in,” William chimes in.
“… And that was it!” they laugh together.
The two were married in 1964. William worked in the stockyards manufacturing district for the same company for 43 years, retiring in 2003.
Karleen got her degree at Chicago State University in 1971 and joined a wave of teachers who integrated Chicago Public Schools, becoming the first African-American to teach in her Northwest Side building the following year. She worked there nine years before moving on to another school. “I had to work harder to earn my reputation and prove myself to be a good teacher,” she says.
After Karleen’s mother passed away in 1987, they bought the home where they now live with their dog, Lucky, in the Rosemoor neighborhood on the South Side.
The Rowes learned about H.O.M.E. around 2009 through a local neighborhood association. When Mike Laz, the Community Programs Director came out, “we clicked right away,” Karleen Rowe says. “He established immediate rapport and it’s been that way ever since.”
“One thing we have noticed is, Mike sends the best out,” Karleen and William say. “We recommend H.O.M.E. to other senior citizens. They make you feel appreciated, and it is reciprocal.”
The organization fills a significant need for the couple: their equity and savings have been severely depleted since the economic crisis of 2008. Financially, they say, life is getting harder, not easier: “After we pay our bills, there’s not a lot left over, so H.O.M.E. really comes in handy.”
This blog post is part of our Voices from H.O.M.E. impact series. The series focuses on the stories of those you have helped to live independently, how your support helped, and their memories of the place we call home, Chicago. Watch for the stories all month long as we prepare for Giving Tuesday 2019.
We hope you will like and share them! The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season. H.O.M.E. has also joined the #ILGive movement to celebrate Giving Tuesday.
Will you mark your calendar for December 3, 2019 to give to make a big impact for seniors in 2020? You can follow us on Facebook for updates, or sign up to be an #ILGive champion by fundraising for H.O.M.E.!
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