In 2019, we are celebrating Debra Duncan’s 10th year working at Deborah’s Place. Debra has worn a variety of hats in her time with us. She started as a desk clerk substitute, working the reception areas of our housing sites in East Garfield Park, Old Town and Lakeview, neighborhoods. She also walked the halls of Marah’s at night as a security guard during the late shift of 8:30 PM to 2 AM. Eventually she was promoted to handling our food services, and she now works as the Food and In-kind Services Associate, splitting her time between our two program-based housing sites.

In her current role, Debra shops for staple food items for Dolores’ Safe Haven and Teresa’s Interim Housing programs, and coordinates food donations from the Greater Chicago Food Depository and partner restaurants. She also oversees the in-kind donations that come in—every bottle of shampoo, every spatula, every toothbrush is carefully sorted and delivered to the appropriate program by Debra. Debra would like to say thank you to everyone who donated to Deborah’s Place this holiday season, “It really made the women happy and excited to have gifts on Christmas Day. We couldn’t do it without you. You play a major part in supporting our women.”

Before working at Deborah’s Place, Debra worked as a substance abuse counselor with the Women’s Treatment Center. And her interest in the subject is personal—Debra struggled with addiction for over twenty years, and in 2018 she celebrated twenty-two years of sobriety. Her personal history is what motivates her to work at Deborah’s Place, helping women who have also known struggles. “I just love this field because, I’ve been there. I was in my addiction for maybe twenty years or so. I got sober in 1996. So this has been a home for me. When I got sober, I wanted to be able to give back to women who are having the same kind of issues that I’ve been through.”

“Every time I get a chance, I share my story with them, give them my experience, give them some hope. I let them know that no matter what they’re doing, when they get ready to stop, they can. Don’t say that you can’t because I know that if I could do it, then you can do it.”

In her spare time, she loves talking with her grown daughter who lives in Texas, and doing puzzles and playing computer games. We want to thank and celebrate Debra on her decade of service to the women of Deborah’s Place. Thank you, Debra!

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