Forged out of personal tragedy, Chicago’s Citizens for Change, Inc. (“CCC”) was founded in May 2010 by Joy McCormack after the senseless and violent loss of her son Frankie Valencia. She and her family felt alone, traumatized, confused and unsupported, since there were no crisis or support services available for families of homicide victims at the time of her son’s murder.
Beginning in 2010, volunteers of CCC/Chicago Survivors worked hard to be heard and to foster recognition that:
• The critical aftermath of homicide was not being addressed in any systematic way.
• Violent loss can affect anyone–and affects everyone.
• Most crime victims were not receiving the services they were entitled to under the law.
• If there is no help, the youth, families, neighborhoods and society touched by violence would continue to disengage, deteriorate and fail.
• That if no one addressed the need, the cycle of violence would continue in a siloed and fragmented city that considered it normal.
Chicago Survivors began working and advocating to change that. It collected perspectives of other survivors. It identified the systems needing the most change. Through the founder and other dedicated unpaid staff, CS served hundreds of families across this City. It created an active community of survivors. It began training the systems families encounter to reduce the traumatic experience and bring change from the inside out. Chicago Survivors began to help families stabilize and become empowered to share their lived experiences to promote healing and change through peer support and advocacy. In 2012 the organization was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax=exempt. non-profit corporation governed by a board of directors.
Chicago Survivors became the sole provider in Chicago of comprehensive crime victim services to families who experience the homicide of a loved one. Chicago Survivors is uniquely survivor-informed, family-centered, field-based, and victim-rights oriented. Since 2014, Chicago Survivors has garnered federal, State and City funding, and is recognized at all these levels for their work. This funding has enabled the organization to hire staff, build the service system, establish working relationships, and train law enforcement, medical examiner and hospital staff to respond to victim families with greater compassion and effectiveness. Private donations, corporate and foundation contributions have also helped Chicago Survivors grow and support families cope with the loss of a loved one to violence.
Services are free and open to all. Chicago Survivors services include:
• Immediate Crisis Intervention;
• Supportive Counseling & Case Management;
• Child/Youth Supportive Counseling & Intervention Services;
• Community of Survivors Events and Support; and
• Criminal Justice and Victim Advocacy.