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God Called Me to Move to the Trailer Park

God Called Me to Move to the Trailer Park

How the forgotten outskirts of Chicagoland became one woman's mission field.

"God, I can't do what I love and continue to work full-time."

The day after Kim Dougherty prayed this in 2009, she found out that she and several other employees of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, were being laid off due to recession-based woes. Trinity's director of student accounting, Dougherty had worked at the evangelical college for more than a decade.

Career coaches routinely counsel clients to consider a layoff an opportunity to reinvent themselves. But Dougherty wasn't looking to discover a "second act" to her career.

She had all the inspiration she needed the moment she left her comfortable office each day. Evenings and weekends were packed with ministry to the marginalized and underserved in her community, mentoring children and teens; spearheading a county-wide food drive; and joining a volunteer group that provided short-term shelter to some of her county's homeless.

And then there was the nearby trailer park. Dougherty had been providing practical assistance to a few low-income residents of a mobile home park in Wauconda, Illinois. "Many people in town do not realize the mobile home park is here," Dougherty said. "[It's] predominately white with a growing Hispanic population. Many in the park are in transition - some trying to leave an abusive relationship, battling addictions, dealing with serious mental-health issues, or fighting to find a job in the wake of a felony conviction. Every person I met was determined to be independent and successful, but most couldn't do so."

Dougherty sensed God was calling her to a simple mission: become a good neighbor to her new friends at the park. "Relationships are a critical need in this community, though many would have trouble admitting it," Dougherty said. "Many live isolated and lonely lives that make interacting with people a real challenge. They have few social skills, if any. What they need most is what they are least likely to pursue and least able to supply for themselves."


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Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments


April 03, 2012  4:12pm

Wow! great and good for her. What a mighty God we serve. Hallelujah, Amen


March 28, 2012  1:09pm

I know Kim and she is the genuine article. Thank you for holding up to us an example of the godly life--beyond what most of us live.


March 23, 2012  7:50am

What an excellent and inspiring post Michelle. I often notice the trailer parks tucked away out of sight. They are treated like eye sores--a sort of ghetto. Maybe I notice because I lived in a trailer for a while when I was young. It comes with a stigma.


March 12, 2012  6:20am

Excellent post. I couldn't agree with you more. I work with single mothers at my church and while many are college educated with excellent social and work skills, several never developed due to emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse while growing up. They need friends too. These are the "least of these" that Jesus wants us to care for.


March 09, 2012  11:37am

If you believe there is a God, why would you so easily dismiss the idea that God nudges us to move, live and speak into places where we can serve? My view is that God calls all of us to be missionaries to one another, wherever we are, whoever we are. To demonstrate love, compassion and grace in small ways and large.


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