CHICAGO — For the last five years, Sarah Galvan has carefully made her way to the dark underbelly of Hometown Bridges.
There she is not known as Sarah but rather, “Mother of the Bridge.” Galvan is the founder of Almost Home, an organization that brings awareness to homelessness and helps those in need. She helps provide food for those who live under the bridge.
Years ago, Galvan and her family planted the first free mini pantry on their front lawn. The food ran low so quickly that they built four more, asking people on Facebook to help fill boxes with food.
Wina Shelly, was one of the people who nominated Galvan for Nexstar’s Remarkable Women Contest. She heard about Galvan through Facebook and has been making pantry drops ever since
“She deals with people that most people would rather ignore and see the homeless as invisible people but she sees them and that touches my heart,” she said.
When Shelly heard about the contest, she didn’t waste any time with her nomination. When WGN put out the call for an interview with someone impacted by Galvan’s kindness, not one but seven people showed up all anxious to share their story.
“I was at a point in my life where I had nowhere else to turn,” Desirae Janzen, someone who was helped by Almost Home, said. “She just took me under her wing and this was actually the first piece of clean clothing that was given to me on that fateful day of that fire and if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t have clothes on my back.”
Scott Duignan said her kindness is overwhelming. He said Galvan has done so much for him that there’s no way he can every repay for her what she has done.
Erin Bofinger said when her 2-year-old was diagnosed with Leukemia and had to spend time in the hospital, Galvan made a delivery containing a couple hundred dollars of giftcards from different places, and also included gas cards.
Rachelle Harris said when she was diagnosed with cancer, she made an Amazon Wishlist and one day she woke up to find that someone had purchased every single thing on the list.
Countless lives have been deeply touched by a woman with a story of her own.
“When I was on maternity leave with my fifth one, I was unexpectedly let go from my job and then six weeks later my husband was laid off so we went from barely making ends meet to literally having nothing,” she said.
Galvan said things got really bad for her family, so they started to sell their belongings. They pawned wedding rings, her husband’s tools and their children’s toys. However, none of it was enough to ward off the impending foreclosure
“We were going be asked to leave our home but with two days to spare, I went to the mailbox and inside there was enough from someone to save our home,” she said. “I was so incredibly grateful to the stranger. It was a true stranger. To this day I don’t know who it was. I vowed that I would do whatever I could to pay it forward one day.”
She said she got started the next day by holding up a cardboard sign that read, “I am NOT homeless, but I am on a mission to help those who are.”
“Every time someone would put a dollar in my hand I was like ‘that’s one less than I need. That’s one less that I need'”.
Within five months Galvan scraped up the $1,200 she needed to start her own non-profit. She called it Almost Home.
“When I hear about somebody that needs some help or needs some love, I’ll just do what I can to make that happen,” she said.
Through Almost Home, Galvan cares for her friends living under the bridge, helps cover rent and electricity payments, feeds the hungry with her 5 Blessing Pantry Boxes, does overdose education outreach and free meal programs with local restaurants. She helps take care of anyone in need of a little help.
“A lot of my friends on the street, I feel maybe we have a connection because I get it. I get it,” she said. “…God tells us to love on one another and not many people do that anymore.”
Click here for more information about Almost Home