Angela Lemke always had considered herself a successful businesswoman, working in corporate America.
Then, while she was away from work for surgery in July 2008, her employer called to say she was no longer needed.
"I was really oblivious to what was happening," said Lemke. "I thought, 'I'll be fine.'"
She soon found herself flying all over the country for job interviews, and by 2010 she still was looking for work and her unemployment benefits were reduced drastically. She ended up seeking financial assistance to pay her bills.
"I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself," said Lemke, noting that she even was unable to get a job at a store. Lemke ultimately had an epiphany and decided, "This is not about me. I said, 'I think I'm supposed to do something.'"
That "something" came to fruition Monday, as Lemke held the official ribbon-cutting for her new not-for-profit organization, True Guidance, in Libertyville.
"Our mission is to help the poverty-stricken, the low-income, and help bring back the middle class," said Lemke, who is from Glenview. "We're going to get you through your basic human needs. We're going to help you get your rent paid."
Lemke said True Guidance will serve as a bridge between individuals and the help they need. The 501(c)3 organization, first and foremost, will help people — including the unemployed — fill out all the necessary paperwork to seek financial assistance to pay their bills.
In her own testimonial on the True Guidance website, Lemke writes about seeking assistance to pay her rent and heat, and buy food. Lemke says she was "sent home repeatedly by a caseworker for things such as having inverted two words in a letter, I was sent home again for bringing in a utility statement instead of a bill, and I sat in a room with a caseworker for three hours filling out forms."
She wants to make that process easier for people. She plans to employ six individuals in her 1,000-square-foot facility to assist clients.
"But why stop at that?" Lemke asked of the paperwork assistance.
Lemke wants to help people not only to find jobs, but also to help them get the additional training they may need for those jobs. Thanks to donations from corporations, organizations and individuals, True Guidance will send people to receive that additional training. For example, if a certified nursing assistant wants to go back to school to become a registered nurse, a grant from one of her donors can fund that, Lemke said.
She added that a local corporation wants to help women start their own businesses.
"If you want to get back to work, we won't stop until we get you somewhere," said Lemke. "That's where we truly guide you."
True Guidance also will focus on health care needs, Lemke said. The organization will help people apply to receive their medications directly through the pharmaceutical companies. Lemke said True Guidance also will have its own physician network for people who need the services. This, too, will be funded by donations and grants from the foundations and corporations.
"We're a bridge to the other side," said Lemke. She stressed that the "services will all be for free."
For more information about True Guidance, 1117 S. Milwaukee Ave. Unit D3, Libertyville, call 1-847-573-0855.