ROGERS PARK — When a Cook County judge earlier this month ordered a homeless woman to get treatment for alcoholism or face jail time, Kelly Hayes related to the woman's struggle.
Hayes, who was homeless for a stretch, joined a group of community members who not only advocated for the woman in court, but also found her a place to spend Christmas and are now helping her get a permanent home.
"I never knew there would be so many that noticed me different than knowing that I drink," Jennifer "Gidget" Green said of the community members who have lent her a helping hand.
Hayes and nearly a dozen community members — several part of Occupy Rogers Park — advocated for Green during a hearing in early December after she was slapped with a drinking in the public way charge and faced six months in jail.
Hayes, 31, an artist and activist, said she, too, was homeles after she was hospitalized "many times" in her 20s for a chronic stomach problem.
"I was very ill," she said.
She even left Loyola University Chicago in her fourth year of studies and couldn't make ends meet. After going "from couch to couch for a while," she said she couldn't lean on her friends any longer and ended up without a home.
But Hayes said during her own experience with homelessness she was "fast-tracked" through services that helped her back on her feet.
Earlier in the month, when she heard some business owners wanted Green to be banned from Morse Avenue because of her behavior — Green often camped out on Morse Avenue and shouted at passersby — Hayes said she felt she had to help.
"If we discriminate against one, we discriminate against all," she said.
Hayes brought Green and other homeless people hot food at the Morse L station with Molly Costello and Peter Hoy, members of the United Church of Rogers Park. They put Green up for a few nights in their home, where they lived with other church members on Ashland Avenue, before Green's court hearing.
To thank them for their help, Green brought the group Christmas presents — little ceramic frogs — this week.
"She came with a whole bag and had different things picked out for different people," Hayes said.
Hayes and Green spent Christmas Eve waiting for a phone call from a low-income housing facility in Uptown. There was hope Green would be able to move into a $340-a-month room before Christmas Day.
But the call came late in the afternoon: Her application was turned down. Hayes said they will continue to search for a place for Green to live this week.
It was another tough break for Green, 53, who grew up in New York and said she had been a waitress for decades after her husband died of cancer. She came to Chicago 10 years ago and lived on Farwell Avenue before her downward spiral.
Green hopes to one day be back on her feet — and off the streets.
"It must be nice to turn the key, take a shower — watch TV," she said.
A friend of Hayes who lives in Uptown and is also a member of Occupy Rogers Park agreed to give Green a place to stay on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. They're having a "good time," Hayes said.
"It’s not a long-term solution, but a least she won’t be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas out here," Hayes said.