History & Heritage
Almost 100 years ago...
At the invitation of Father William J. McNamee, pastor of Old St. Patrick’s Church, the Catholic Social Center was established in 1914 on the corner of Sangamon and Jackson Blvd . The first two Daughters of Charity to staff the new service were Sister DeSales Douglas and Sister Paula Courleaux. The services consisted of a Day Nursery, a Kindergarten, a lunch room for those who lived and worked in the neighborhood and programs for women.
After 32 years of service, the Catholic Social Center relocated to California and Jackson Blvd. In June 1947 the work continued under a new name, Marillac Social Center, called Marillac House in honor of St. Louise de Marillac, who with St. Vincent de Paul founded the Daughters of Charity. At the new site, the Sisters and staff continued to provide child care for young children of working parents and single parent families.
Recreation programs were established for children, teenagers and young adults, as well as services for seniors. Block Clubs were formed and the Family Service department provided a food pantry and a thrift shop to meet the growing needs of the community.
Throughout the decades, Marillac Social Center has responded to the needs of the community it serves by expanding its services and facility. Project Hope was started by Kay Hallagan in 1982 for pregnant teens to help them bond with their babies and carry them to full term. Hope Jr. was also started by Kay in 1985 for the young girls in the neighborhood to help them reach their full potential through mentoring and tutoring, and other activities such as drama, sports, art, and field trips.
In 1995, a new state-of-the-arts facility for children and other social services was constructed at Francisco and Jackson. In 2002, the Nifty Thrifty was built to offer expanded services for those in need.
Marillac Social Center continues to provide quality child care for children of Chicago’s working families. This program has been accredited by the National Association of the Education of the Young Child (NAEYC) the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals.
The Family Services Department continues to respond to the changing needs of the community through energy relief service through CEDA, a Greater Chicago Food Depository-funded food pantry, a Catholic Charities case worker, GED Classes and many other services.
The Senior Program reaches out to 100 home-bound and isolated seniors. The Take Charge program reaches out to active seniors who also volunteer to help the homebound.
Project Hope and Hope Jr. services have expanded. Project Hope has a Doula Program. A grant from After School Matters for teens allowed Hope Jr. to expand to boys.
Under the Sponsorship of the Daughters of Charity, Marillac Social Center’s sisters and staff are committed to strengthening and empowering those most in need to reach their greatest potential.