“In 2012, I was losing my battle with addiction and found myself alone and homeless on Chicago’s north side. Life was difficult back then – colder, scarier, and without purpose. More than anything, I found the lack of community to be the hardest part of my time on the streets,” said Bill, a Heartland Alliance participant.
For Bill and many others who identify as LGBTQ, thriving starts with connection – access to resources, healthcare, and community. For over 30 years, Heartland Alliance has connected with those in the community facing substance use disorders, homelessness, or who are living with HIV and AIDS. For individuals who may be experiencing barriers and are seeking an open hand to find their path toward success, we’re happy to lend it.
This Pride Month, Heartland Alliance collaborated with global technology leader, Salesforce, and specifically, its #Outforce employee resource group, to engage in several activities in support of our work to serve vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community.
“Equality is a core value at Salesforce,” said Ryan Lasure, Salesforce strategic account executive and #Outforce community leader. “We believe that standing up for equal rights for everyone— regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability or otherwise—is central to our path toward equality for all.”
Salesforce held learning sessions with Heartland Alliance staff to hear more about the intersection between LGBTQ issues, and how our work aims to remove barriers and provide access. Heartland Alliance Health’s executive director spoke of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ teens facing homelessness, and our Social IMPACT Research Center representative recapped findings from our current Poverty Report.
Eva, a resident of our LGBTQ-friendly Town Hall Apartments, also participated in the conversation. She was featured in this year’s report that specifically focused on gender disparities as a major cause of poverty.
“I may be living in poverty and I’m queer femme, but look at the dignity I am living in,” Eva said. “If you have a positive attitude and positive places you can fall back on like Heartland Alliance, you can be okay and still have dignity.”
The chance to shed light on issues once shrouded in stigma is an integral piece of highlighting the pride behind PRIDE. Salesforce’s month-long celebration with Heartland Alliance is a testament to its commitment to inclusivity and openness. Those values were put into action with a fundraiser honoring Heartland Alliance staff and participants, raising tens of thousands of dollars to create more opportunities for people like Bill.
“It has been over three years since I was offered housing stability,” Bill said. “Since then, I have been gainfully employed for over four years as a home care worker. I love this because it is my opportunity to give back. We get to help each other in the process, it gives me a purpose. In all, we are living a better life together.”
As we continue to fight against gender inequity, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, homelessness, and other causes of injustice, we would like to thank Salesforce for their generosity and support as we work to achieve equity and opportunity for all.