WINGS, a nonprofit organization serving individuals and families impacted by domestic violence, has been recognized with a 2017 Chicago Innovation Award.
WINGS based in Arlington Heights was honored recently with a Neighborhood Award in the nonprofit category for its latest innovation, The Safe House at WINGS Metro.
The Safe House at WINGS Metro is an accessible shelter on the southwest side of Chicago. It can accommodate 40 individuals on any given night, providing a secure environment for families escaping domestic violence. The Safe House at WINGS Metro features a children's play room, computer lab, laundry facilities, a private garden and outdoor playground. It is strategically located near a police station to provide safety and access to residents.
WINGS was one of 25 local innovators, including the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and SpotHero, who were selected from more than 530 entries. The awards program is sponsored by Chicago Innovation, an organization whose mission "is to create a thriving innovation ecosystem in the Chicago region by educating, connecting and celebrating innovators."
Since opening its doors in February 2016, The Safe House at WINGS Metro has provided more than 20,000 nights of lifesaving shelter to survivors of domestic violence. It was thanks, in part, to a back taxes settlement that the city of Chicago reached with a strip club that The Safe House at WINGS Metro came to be. With the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, approximately $1.8 million of the settlement funds were invested in domestic violence programs and services.
"WINGS has a unique approach to assisting people impacted by domestic violence. We provide shelter, food, clothing, counseling and other services for victims and their children," explained Rebecca Darr, chief executive officer of WINGS Program. "We give people who are in fear for their lives and have limited resources the kind of one-on-one support that helps them escape violence and begin their journeys toward independence. We are so grateful to Mayor Emanuel and to everyone who helped make The Safe House a reality where we can help victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives," Darr said.
Established in 1985, WINGS got its start as a nonprofit housing agency. WINGS provides emergency safe shelter and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. WINGS also helps families who are in crisis meet basic needs for items such as food and clothing. Escaping the cycle of violence requires more than just a safe place to live. WINGS has continued to expand to address the specific needs of individuals and families. WINGS connects clients with a wide range of services such as counseling, legal assistance, mentoring, life skills support and career services. Making the courageous decision to leave an abusive relationship is the first step in a difficult journey. WINGS' goal as an agency is to provide all of the tools and supports needed to ensure that families have what they need to move toward safety, independence and self-sufficiency.