Allison Keller is not only an affordable housing advocate. She is also a Rapid Rehousing and Transitional Housing Case Manager at Connections for the Homeless. In this role, she matches people to housing programs that provide one to two years of rental assistance and connects them to resources like school systems and public benefits programs to help them access jobs, food, and services. These programs help participants pay rents that they can afford and supplement the remaining housing costs for up to two years, while helping them to increase their income until they’re able to pay rent independently.
Community Case Manager at Connections for the Homeless, Ernie Calderon, is one of the 23 people who went to Springfield with the advocacy team to lobby for Senate Bill 1476 and more funding for housing services in Illinois. He works at the drop-in centers at Dewey and Hilda’s Place, serving as the first point of contact with Connections’ clients to help them with finding medical insurance, getting driver’s licenses, attending court and doctor’s appointments, etc.
Melissa Appelt is originally from Ames, Iowa, but has lived in east Glenview since 1994. Melissa worked for more than 30 years as a grant writer for the Chicago Botanic Garden and Mid-America Arts Alliance, a regional arts organization in Kansas City. She became involved with Interfaith Action of Evanston through its Advocacy Committee and is now the president of the board of directors. With a mission to serve homeless and hungry people, promote interfaith dialogue, and advocate for the people it serves, Interfaith Action is a member of Joining Forces and works closely with Connections for the Homeless.
This advocacy spotlight is focused on Kimberly Holmes-Ross, the Community Engagement Director/ Interim Executive Director at Evanston Cradle to Career. She is a third-generation Evanstonian who was born and raised in the 5th ward. Then, after traveling around the country, she came back and settled in the 2nd ward to raise her family. Like many people who live in Evanston, she has a strong connection to the community and recognizes all that the city has to offer its citizens.
We'd like to introduce you to Rodney Dawkins. As the youngest of five, Rodney was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, in Bronzeville. He lived in the Uptown area for several years, then moved up to Skokie in 2021 and has lived there ever since.
For this month, we're featuring the executive director of the Reba Place Development Corporation (RPDC) and Joining Forces member, Keith Banks. Keith is originally from the south side of Chicago, moving around with his single divorced mom and his brother from rental apartments to townhouse co-ops and more. He relocated to Evanston with his wife 28 years ago and continues to reside in this town.
For this month, Joining Forces is shining the advocacy spotlight on Bonnie Wilson! Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Bonnie has lived in Evanston since she was 21 years old. She has worked in real estate for the past 38 years and still works as a realtor today. In fact, Bonnie’s work in real estate is what led her to affordable housing advocacy.
For this month’s Advocacy Spotlight, we are featuring Joining Forces member, Terri Dubin. Terri grew up in the New England area, moving between New York City and Boston, then moving to Evanston in 1988 because her husband was from the area and the progressive politics of Chicagoland appealed to them. Terri is currently retired but has a BA in Urban Studies and has worked in a planning center in New York City, worked in architecture, and has had other vocations that involve her interest in “how cities come together.”
For this spotlight, we’re focusing on none other than Joining Forces’ own Nathaniel Hagemaster as his year-long term of AmeriCorps VISTA service that brought him to Connections ends!
Joining Forces would like to welcome our advocacy team’s second Community Organizer, Max Seeley. Max is a Stevenson fellow in Applied Community and Economic Development. He is starting an eleven-month internship here at Connections and Joining Forces for his political science master’s program at Illinois State University with an emphasis on public policy and state-legislative elections.