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“I was thinking that it would be easy to get back on my feet. It wasn’t that easy.”

Englewood, Illinois - October, 2020

My name is Ralph Liggins. I am an Air Force veteran who has been living with family for the past 14 years, while trying to get back on my feet. I moved in after child support and not having a job happened at the same time. I was thinking that it would be easy to get back on my feet. It wasn’t that easy.

I spent four years stationed between San Antonio and Europe. Once I left the Air Force, I went back to San Antonio to be with my oldest son. I was still connected to Chicago and spent the next 30 years traveling back and forth. In 2017, I applied to live at Hope Manor II but, by the time my application was approved, I’d moved back to Texas.

Soon after that move, I was involved in a horrific car crash that almost ended my life. In order to recover, I went back to Chicago to be with family. This was my second chance at life. Once I was well, I started applying for jobs and was able to find a job with the state. I started getting back on track.

Today, I was brought to a new apartment home at Hope Manor Village. It’s a community built by VOA Illinois on vacant lots in Englewood. It is built with veterans and families in mind. I’m down the street from Hope Manor II and the future site of Englewood 21.

When I opened the front door, with my daughter Kayla, I could hardly believe my eyes. It’s a beautiful brand new home! There’s a big refrigerator and freezer, a huge mirror in the bathroom and a bedroom with a bed of my own. The excitement I feel walking through this place is overwhelming. I just didn’t know what to expect.

They wouldn’t let me see it until it was finished. My family are the first tenants to move in. Over the next few months, 35 more families will be moving in and I can’t wait to meet them. Years ago, I lived in Englewood so being able to return to my old neighborhood is also a blessing. This gives me hope too for Englewood’s future. Whatever I can do to be a part of this community and help this community, I am willing to do.

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