Rodney, a Heartland Alliance Health outreach worker and case manager, is known by many as the unofficial mayor of Uptown. Everyone knows and loves Rodney, because he’s dedicated to treating people exactly where they are. Rodney himself spent time on the streets years ago – but after achieving housing through Heartland Alliance, he’s dedicated himself to ensuring others can find the safety and stability of a home.
What motivates you to do the work that you do? Why do you give your time, energy, and resources to these causes?
I was homeless for years before Heartland Alliance. Housing is a basic safety need. I look back to when I was on the street and how hard it was. Without Heartland Alliance Health, the goals I have today wouldn’t have even been in my plans. Back then, I was just focused on finding a place to sleep. Nobody should be on the streets – and so I’m dedicated to making sure our people have the resources they need. I work with our community advisory board, and even work with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council advocating for our rights.
How does your work with Heartland Alliance help this cause?
In 2013, I took a job with Heartland Alliance Health as a peer support worker. I would spend a lot of time connecting with individuals on the streets and at local hospitals – primarily at Stroger. Today, I spend a lot of my time working with homeless youth – connecting them with housing and making sure they have what they need to thrive.
How should others help?
Housing is a basic safety need. Nobody should be on the streets. Until people have that stability, you can’t connect properly and people will still be out there. It’s up to us to support organizations that connect people with housing AND people out there fighting for more resources for those organizations. More importantly, we need to connect with the people. When I was asked to work for Heartland Alliance, I wasn’t expecting to work here. But HAH came to me, they saw something in me. We need to do that for those of us still on the streets.