Born to a large family with nine siblings, Patricia “Pat” Franklin understands the importance of working together so that everyone has what they need to thrive. A grandmother of three and self-described jokester, Pat aspires to make the world better for families like hers.
“Growing up, I never knew we were poor,” recalls Pat. “Sleeping three to a bed – I just thought that’s the way it was. My mother was always helping and taking people in. She taught me that there’s always someone else out there who is worse off than you.”
Today, Pat channels her mother’s generous spirit by serving as grassroots leader with CCH, leading advocacy efforts to support people experiencing homelessness.
“CCH is like my second family,” Pat said. “I just love being here and advocating. By sharing my story, I hope it helps the next family and prevents them from going through what I did.”
Twenty-seven years at the same organization is an incredible achievement and Julie Dworkin, Director of Policy at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, is understandably ready to take on new challenges. She has announced her last day will be November 3.
Julie is recognized locally and nationally as a committed and tireless advocate and policy expert. She stands out for her unwavering dedication and resilience. Her efforts have made a profound impact in addressing Chicago and Illinois homelessness and housing issues.
Over the years, Julie played both a contributing and leadership role in a wide range of important policy and budgetary changes at both the city and state level. Below is just a sampling of efforts that Julie lent her presence and voice to.
Nia Hill wants you to know that the West Side of Chicago has great people who do great things. Born and raised in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, she also understands first-hand the barriers that residents in these systemically marginalized communities face.
“A quick Google search tells you what you want to know,” said Nia on where she grew up, noting the prevalence of violence and poverty caused by institutional racism.
Nia’s family experienced homelessness when she was in high school after losing their Section 8 voucher. They “bounced around a lot” – staying with an aunt, people from church, and hotels before eventually settling into stable housing.
“It was a humbling experience,” she recalls, “learning how to do without a place you would normally consider home.”
Six first-year college students won scholarships awarded by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) in June. They hail from Chicago, Evanston, and West Chicago and will attend universities in Illinois and Washington, D.C.
Launched in 2004, CCH’s scholarship program provides up to five years of financial support as students work towards a college degree. Twenty-four students will receive scholarships during the 2023 – 24 school year. They include six first-years, six sophomores, seven juniors, and five seniors. They are attending colleges and universities in California, Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin.
Maxica and her three school-age children moved into their new home in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood last January. It has six bedrooms and a big backyard – perfect for making snow angels in the winter and leaf angels in the fall. The residential streets and proximity to parks offer ample space for family strolls with their new puppy, Roxy. And a nearby community garden provides fresh produce for cooking and eating together.
DeNaysa,16, is a bookworm. The salutatorian of her 8th grade class, the now high school sophomore enjoys band, choir, and volleyball. She is also learning how to drive. DeSera, 14, is a “momma’s girl,” – a natural caregiver and straight-A honors student. She loves choir and is a sprinter on her high school’s track and field team. DeVon, 13, is a talented athlete, playing basketball, football, softball, and volleyball. He likes turning his poetry into music, using skills learned from an After School Matters program.
“My kids are my heart and soul and the centers of my life,” said Maxica.
Mayra Fajardo recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She earned a double major in psychology and criminology/law, with a double minor in history and Spanish. Having navigated high school and college as an unaccompanied student, Mayra is passionate about using her skills and experiences to help others.
Born and raised in Chicago, Mayra moved with her family to Ecuador at 15. A year later, she made the difficult decision to return to Chicago alone to pursue better educational opportunities. Her goal? To provide hope and support for her mother and younger sister.
At the start of the pandemic, Shamaje Singleton, then 18, was unable to afford housing on his own. He bounced around Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, living doubled-up with various family members and sharing crowded hotel rooms with friends.
A month after turning 19, Shamaje received wonderful news: He had been accepted into the Solid Ground transitional living program at La Casa Norte. Shamaje instantly connected to the community living in the dorm-style building in Humboldt Park.
Six Chicago area high school graduates have won a CCH college scholarship to support them in their higher education journeys. They were celebrated at a luncheon with CCH staff, selection committee members, and limited guests on July 28.
CCH’s annual award of $3,500 is renewable for up to five years as students work to complete a bachelor’s or associate degree. All first-year winners also received new laptops, made possible with a grant from long-time partner, The Osa Foundation.
Twenty undergraduate students will be supported by the CCH college scholarship program during the 2022 – 2023 school year, including six first-years, six sophomores, three juniors, and five seniors. They are attending colleges and universities in California, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, and Wisconsin, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Georgia and Washington, D.C.
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of CCH grassroots leader Edrika Fulford. Edrika was an extraordinary advocate for ending homelessness as well as a cherished friend and community member.
CCH extends our love and condolences to Edrika’s family, friends, and the many people who love her.
During her time at CCH, Edrika was an active member of our Speakers Bureau, a core leader with the Bring Chicago Home campaign, and a founding member of the Mutual Aid Governance Committee. She was active with the Horizons creative writing program, both as a participant and emcee of last year’s virtual event. She was proud to have joined CCH staff as an Outreach Assistant in the Organizing Department in the weeks before her passing.
Edrika brought immense passion and resolve to all that she did as a leader and advocate, whether speaking at rallies, testifying at press conferences, officiating events, or providing interviews with the media. She will be deeply missed and forever part of CCH’s mission and legacy.
By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation
During this successful legislative session, CCH policy and organizing staff, alongside our grassroots leaders, worked on various initiatives to remove barriers for people experiencing homelessness.
Shared advocacy and organizing in Springfield resulted in increased funding for housing programs in the FY23 state budget as well as the passage of HB 5265, HB 4242, and HB 2775, bills that will support K-12 students, increase access to child care, and ban source of income discrimination for renters.