By Michael Nameche, Director of Development
CCH is sad to announce that long-time supporter, advocate, and former Board Member Dem Hopkins passed away this week. Dem will be remembered for the passion and creativity that he brought to fight against homelessness.
Dem went through periods of homelessness in his youth and that experience made him all the more fervent in his support of policies and legislation that would bring about systemic change. Dem is due some renown for opening Oz, one of Chicago’s earliest punk clubs, in the late 70s. Here at CCH we are most grateful for Dem’s decision almost thirty years later to dust off his address book to reunite musicians and fans of the early scene to perform a benefit for CCH. This effort led to the fortunate partnership with Riot Fest which continues to bring about awareness and support to this day. You can read more about the genesis of that relationship and how far it has come here.
Riot Fest founder, Mike Petryshyn, reflects: “I was definitely inspired by Dem. And when I got a chance to work with him, he pushed me to see some things in myself that I really liked. Our similar paths in the music scene had also aligned our hearts. Ever since then, it has stayed with me in the way I book acts and in creating the Riot Fest Foundation. He will be missed.”
When Oz finally closed for good, Dem decided to become a lawyer. While he was in law school, Dem interned at CCH and helped to advocate for the voting rights of people experiencing homelessness. Many years later, he joined the CCH Board of Directors. His colleague, former Board President Jaquie Algee, remembers Dem fondly: “Dem Hopkins was a straight up guy! No nonsense, no pretense because equity for all was real to Dem. He stood in this truth no matter what. It was an honor to serve on the Board of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless with Dem. CCH was better because of Dem’s service and support.”
Dem was always ready to support CCH, whether it be in the form of providing matching funds for Giving Tuesday or serving as a guest bartender at one of our Cheers For Change events. His enthusiasm for the work of CCH could energize others just as well as any punk rock song. He will be missed but his legacy lives on.