Beginning early 2004, Taryn LaRae, a young student fresh out of college decided to take what was once her student-led organization at DePaul University and start an organization that would provide direct, supportive services to individuals and at-risk families. Seeing the growth from the student-populated, on-campus organization, several community leaders along with the support of her parents and other students, rallied around her mission to build on the infrastructure of the Greater Chicagoland area, specifically tackling the issue of domestic violence.
From its inception, the Founder & Board of Directors saw first-hand the need to increase resources available to victims of domestic abuse; specifically the growing demands in the city’s housing crisis of limited beds. With this goal in mind, the organization’s main thrust was to not only help bring a greater awareness to the issue of domestic violence, but also bridge a service gap to meet those needs. In November of that same year, Women In Need of Godly Services, (d/b/a W.I.N.G.S. Domestic Violence Agency) – was officially incorporated to operate and function as a full service domestic violence agency.
Since support & awareness initially began through the on-campus turned incorporated organization (Divine Global Empowerment), the idea was to build on W.I.N.G.S’ internal infrastructure over the years and allow time for leaders to thoroughly develop the non-profit management skills & knowledge needed to successfully operate such a huge undertaking on a full scale, while simultaneously pushing the goals and mission of D.G.E.
With limited resources, but a strong determination to grow, those supporting the organization began a strategic planning process to gain the funds & resources needed to build. Such major events included the production of a stage play entitled, “Slapping Domestic Violence Back in the Face” held at the beautiful, Merle Reskin Theater; a 1,300 seated, fully staged theater located in the heart of downtown Chicago and what was known as W.I.N.G.S “Christmas Teen Toy Drive.” Through the benevolences and in a collaborative effort with one of the highest political figures in Illinois, the Honorable Ms. Dorothy Brown’s (Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County) organization hosted a concert/campaign, which was inclusive to W.I.N.G.S event. Patrons attending the concert, which featured some of the hottest, leading musical talent that evening, signed up to give toys for the event. With the success of the toy drive, W.I.N.G.S was able to deliver toys to Between Friends Agency – another domestic violence agency based in Chicago, IL. In March 2006, the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office hosted their 16th Annual Black History Event and acknowledged the Founder/Chair of W.I.N.G.S., Taryn LaRae, as the recipient of the award for her vision and works towards the initiation & opening of the domestic violence agency.
During the years in between, W.I.N.G.S. has networked and gained connections with other organizations. In particular, W.I.N.G.S linked with AGORA, CDC (an approved H.U.D. Housing Counseling Agency) to establish a plan to help W.I.N.G.S operate its short-term residency initiatives on a 365 day, 24-hr basis. As a result, one of our Board Members participated in AGORA’s training program & became a certified, licensed HUD Counselor in order to assist in the building of housing demands for W.I.N.G.S.
By 2011, W.I.N.G.S was able to acquire its first multi-unit property. Years later, the organization expanded and was approved in one of the top premeire community development’s revitalization program.
Through the acquisition of property donations & networking relationships, the organization has grown in leaps in bounds since its initial existence. Currently, one of our buildings is being renovated to incubate the emergency shelter program that will accommodate up to eighteen women & their children per month for at least twenty-one days of temporary respite. This would mean on average, at least 300 women and children will be serviced throughout the year from this single program.
Despite facing an unprecedented number of challenges, the Founder & executive Board leadership of Women In Need of Godly Services has demonstrated a track record of diligence and drive. What started as a small, student-led college group in 1999 has transformed into a 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization with the strategic planning efforts, aspirations, and ambitions of creating a statewide impact. As a result, W.I.N.G.S. has been a consistent, active organization for over 10 years.