When the Chicago Sun-Times wanted a first-hand account of an individual living in poverty, they looked to Chicago HCH project Heartland Health Alliance, and Heartland looked to Rodney Dawkins. A Member-at-Large of the National Consumer Advisory Board and a participant in Heartland’s Community Advisory Board, Dawkins had survived homelessness and agreed to tell his story to a Sun-Times reporter.
Lack of affordable housing and a scarcity of living wage jobs have affected the livelihood of one out of three Illinoisans as well as families and individuals across the country. Despite these grim circumstances and the poverty associated with them, advocates like Dawkins have begun speaking up to demand justice. Dawkins has approached life and his work realistically but with a positive attitude. Part of what has kept him positive has been his own work, advocating for a fairer wage and equal opportunities for all.
“Poverty makes you know how to manage your money well and humbles you,” Dawkins said, “but you have to have a positive attitude. We have a long way to go before everyone will be treated equally.” Dawkins wants to return to school to fulfill his dream of one day practicing law.
The Sun-Times reporter asked Dawkins what he thought of the common myth that people who are homeless are “lazy”. Dawkins said that was false and that for anyone to succeed “an individual has to be connected to people who understand where you are coming from. They have to care. You also have to have a positive attitude.” He found that support at Heartland Health Alliance. NHCHC and NCAB are fortunate to have Dawkins’s caring leadership on board.