Arloa Sutter was born and raised on a farm in Iowa before she arrived in Edgewater. She married the pastor of First Free Evangelical Church in 1988 and became involved with the homeless that came to the church door. She opened a storefront center on Ashland at Berwyn serving meals, and also a homeless shelter in the church. Over time, Arloa expanded her vision of caring for the poor to include a shelter and job training.
She involved the local business community through the Clean Street Program. The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce contracted to have the men at the shelter pick up garbage on the street. “It was more dignifying to give people a paycheck than a handout. I think it did a lot to sensitize, people to the homeless and see them as real people who had something to offer to the community.” This idea of respecting and acknowledging all human beings became the cornerstone of her philosophy.
Arloa’s organization took on the name “Breakthrough Urban Ministries” in 1992, serving the needs of the Edgewater community until 2008, when Breakthrough outgrew its space and moved to East Garfield Park. Since then, they have expanded their services with innovative programs to include women and families on three sites.
“We’re responding to the needs of people and doing it
in a dignifying loving, caring way.”
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