After eight years of homelessness, Faith Jones never expected to see herself honored as a “Woman of Excellence.” But on May 4, 2017, she will be honored by the Chicago Defender’s 2017 Women of Excellence, along with 49 other women, who excel in arts and culture, banking, education, energy, finance, healthcare, law, marketing, nonprofits, real estate, sports and more.
While Faith is being honored for her successful run as one of the most outstanding drivers for ride-sharing company Uber, her rise to success has been long awaited. When passengers get into one of two cars for the “Queen of Uber,” what they don’t know is Faith spent eight years battling homelessness, grew up in the foster care system, bounced from shelter to shelter, ate food from garbage cans, and slept under viaducts and cars. She even recognizes some of these passengers as people whom she’d asked for change.
They don’t know that Faith was once terrified when one of her few comrades disappeared from a shelter. Assuming her friend died, Faith was dumbfounded to see the same friend pop back up months later―with a triumphant grin lining her face and a new job as an Uber driver.
That friend took Faith into her newfound home, and the two teamed up together to take on odd jobs while they worked as Uber drivers. Faith quickly realized that she was earning more money as an Uber driver with a rental car than she was working for a neighborhood dollar store, but she was still afraid to quit her retail position. What if she did buy her own car and return the rental that she’d been using to drive Uber pedestrians around? Would she be able to afford car payments? Would she be able to make a job as an independent contractor into a lucrative career? Would she be able to afford housing and the car? The answers to those questions all proved to be “yes.”
But even now with a condo and two cars, Faith still cries about those memories of homelessness. She makes a point of feeding the homeless and passing out gifts with her own earnings, still remembering the days of being in their shoes. But now Faith wants these women to be able to join her―on wheels.
Four years and going, Faith has been the “Queen of Uber” and is being recognized by Uber for her bravery and accomplishments. But Faith’s bigger goal is to continue on in the footsteps of the friend who helped Faith get off the streets―by helping other women also be able to find jobs. Faith’s ultimate goal is to buy a mobile truck that will allow homeless women a place to sleep and shower, and introduce them to jobs such as Uber that helped Faith get where she is today.