National Hunger & Homeless Week: An essay by Ryan Cameron

We invited our volunteers to write about what motivates them in their work for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Their essays will be posted daily as we mark National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week.

Today’s essay is from Ryan Cameron, treasurer of the CCH Associate Board. Ryan works as the wellness products manager at beBetter Health, Inc. 


When I was five, my mom, my sisters and I, due to the burdens of debt and divorce, were evicted from our home.  I remember my mom saying that this is not a situation that happens in families like mine.  Both my parents had graduated from a top college and received an MBA from one of the top 5 programs in the world.  Unimaginably self-assured, they continued to build up risky debt without a concern that something might happen and then they would owe a lot of money.  My dad’s business had a very bad year, money became the only topic of conversation, my parents began to fight more, and, by the end of the year, my sisters and I were given the option to sleep on the floor of our old house or in the car since the guys taking the house gave us a night to find somewhere else to stay.

Thanks to the generosity of friends, family, and our community the four of us were given the opportunity to start a new life. This great loss and even greater charity taught me 3 things: anyone can lose their home, education is the one thing that can’t be taken from you, and effective community action can lead to life-long change.  As the Treasurer of the Associate Board for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), I get to help out an organization that shares those 3 understandings.

CCH battles homelessness at its root causes.  They work on the legislative level to make housing more affordable; they offer scholarships for education; and, they promote beneficial changes through effective community action.  Their effort over the past 30 years has given representation to those without one of the basic human needs.  It is this approach that could end homelessness in Chicago.