Monti’s road to Mercy Home started during her time as an employee for the city of Chicago. She worked in Cabrini Green, a public housing complex.
“That introduced me to a new way of … how people live and the culture of the young people over there, and that was a learning experience for me,” she said. “While we tend to live amidst a lot of things, we’re not always introduced to what’s really happening. And so, Cabrini Green was actually my happening. After a while with the culture over there and visiting people’s homes, I started to understand.”
Monti said she would probably still be working in that position if not for an incident that took place when she had a late night at work. While waiting at a bus stop to go home, she felt what she thought was a bee go past her ear.
“Being ignorant to the culture in a sense, [I didn’t realize] someone was shooting out the window,” she remembered.
When she and a coworker turned to go back inside to shield themselves from the gunfire, Monti was shot.
“We turned to go up these stairs and that’s when I felt it,” she said. “It hit me dead in my head.”
Monti was rushed to the hospital, where they assumed she was a resident of Cabrini Green—something that negatively impacted her care.
“I got abused in the hospital, basically because they were treating me like I’m a victim who won’t defend myself,” she said. “They shaved my hair off, they made me walk to the ER room [from the hospital entrance] bleeding. I know what it means for your life to flash before you. When people start to say that, I understand it, because you’re thinking, oh I should have did this, oh I should have told that person I was sorry, you know, I hope my mother gets here in time to say bye.”
Although she eventually recovered, Monti said that this experience caused her to retreat into her “safe space,” which was teaching preschool. But when the preschool began holding an afterschool program for older kids—something she greatly enjoyed—she gained the courage to continue her work with those who were in need.
“I started getting what I call hunger to step outside of my safe space and see what else I could do,” she said.