Looking for a New Home

In June of 2011 two young women moved into a former drug house and began to welcome their neighbors for dinners and cook-outs. It didn’t take long for this once-notorious house to yet again become notorious as that first July 4th saw hundreds of visitors milling around enjoying chicken kabobs and a few yard games. After nearly seven years, the hospitality offered in this house has touched thousands of people and truly transformed countless lives. While we would love to stay here forever, continuing in the rhythms of hospitality that our neighbors have come to count on, like them, we are living on borrowed time. The neighborhood is steadily gentrifying and we live in constant fear of losing our home with little to no warning. While we have no immediate plans to relocate, we believe that it is time to prepare so that when that day comes we can be ready to reestablish ourselves in the right home.

The JUSTembrace home has a few pieces of artwork that we have created to help tell our story over the years. Two of them were created on giant surfaces and hang in prominent places in our home, inviting all who visit to take notice of their beauty and catch a glimpse of our history. We are delighted to announce that, for the FIRST time, we are offering canvas prints and pillows for NEW partners of JUSTembrace! 

“Home in the City”

The first one was created by JJ Barrows in the summer of 2012 as a fundraiser to help us take the giant leap into the rental of this entire home! This stunning piece depicts our little home in the great big city. The windows of the skyscrapers bear the names of those who made it possible to take such a huge step. Incorporated are buttons from Sher’s inherited grandmother’s collection as well as fabric scraps from one of our first partners who has since passed. This painting has been a constant reminder of our mission to provide restorative hospitality in a beautiful yet at times encumbering city where hordes of people are isolated, alone, and forgotten. It has also served as a testament to the dozens of faithful partners who enable us to live here through their consistent generosity!

Through the years, many have lived in this little house, learning first-hand what a lifestyle of restoration looks like from the front porch of a home. Dozens have called this house their home away from home and found a community that quickly became family. Our spare beds have hosted a good deal of visitors who have observed and been trained in restorative living. Countless members of our community and beyond have been guests for intimate meals, spontaneous cook-outs, annual carnivals, and hundreds of events as well as scores of casual moments of hospitality. This painting invites the onlooker into the story of a drug-house turned home of hospitality for all in the midst of Chicago’s looming skyline.


The second painting hangs in the dining room and nearly speaks for itself with its bold proclamation; “LOVE IS MESSY.” However, the story behind this icon must be told to fully grasp its significance.

This painting was created during our Fall Festival in 2015 as a community game/project. The idea for this piece came up in part because “Love is messy” is the slogan for Garrett’s popcorn, a Chicago staple. However, we created this piece right in the middle of a string of devastating losses to our family. In just the few months prior, death had visited us many times.  Soon after, and several times since this was hung in the house, we again faced crushing loss. The cost of our love had become apparent, and even in our grief we paused to celebrate as a family and with our community.

This meaningful image hangs over the space where we gather to eat, serving as a call back to the reality of our shared experience of love when we are threatened with disillusionment or defeat.

The next chapter in the JUSTembrace story will require us to find a new home. While that change is not upon us yet, it is imminent. For us to prepare, we must grow our partner base to at least double, to ensure we are in a position for such a move. We hope to have 120 partners committed to supporting us through this transition and into our future home!

There are 3 ways to get one of these prints and help us prepare to move:

  1. Become a new monthly partner! By signing up for monthly donations through PayPal (or sending monthly checks) for any amount, you are making the decision not just to support the work of JUSTembrace, but are affirming your desire to grow as a person who shares and lives out our restorative values of Inclusivity, Generosity, and Hospitality!  Once you sign-up, email us and let us know which size/image you would like. (see image below!)(Make sure you choose “make this a monthly donation” when you donate!)
  2. Make a one-time gift of $300 or more! Partnership is not right for everyone – we get that! But this art is amazing and would make a very meaningful gift for a friend or family member! Just click the Donate button below to make your one-time donation. Shoot us an email to let us know which size/image you would like! (see image below!)
  3. Stick with us! Our current partners mean the WORLD to us! We have ordered extra 12×12 prints of both paintings. With the simple affirmation that you will stay partnered with JUSTembrace for at least the next three years, we will send you a 12×12 copy of one of these images! (check your email for details about this!)

  4. You can donate right here, right now! Don’t stop there though! Find out so much more about how our partners are truly members of our family. Follow this link to find out how we will not only send you art, but incorporate you into art here at home too!

    18×18 Double Sided Pillow
    12×12 Canvas Prints
    16×16 Canvas Prints
    20×20 Canvas Prints