In 2017, Uptown and Cornerstone sadly lost one of their regulars; a veteran of both the war in Vietnam and the mean streets of Chicago. Through all his trauma and tragedy, I will always remember Dan as a peaceful soul who loved to read novels and chill out with a couple of his buddies. Even though it came to him, Dan was someone who make every effort to steer clear of the drama. No matter what was going on, I always loved to bump into him and have a good chat with my older buddy!
I knew Dan in many circumstances, over many years. I knew him at the shelter, I knew him as he slept behind the CVS, I knew him when he stayed at Friendly Towers, I knew him when he slept under bridges and I knew him when he got his final apartment. I walked with him throughout his complicated and emotional journey; it can be a tough and joyful experience to walk with someone through their homelessness, their evictions and their eventual housing. This is especially true for someone who served his country and was left struggling with trauma that never escaped him. Even though he was homeless on and off for over a decade, “chronic homelessness” shouldn’t have been Dan’s reality and it shouldn’t be the reality of any veteran; every veteran deserves better than that!
I’m happy to say, Dan lived his final years in his own crib, but getting him there was long, complicated and tiresome! Red tape had to be cut, pressure had to be placed in the right places at the right times and everyone had to refuse to surrender. It took too long and without people on the ground rallying around and for him, Dan would have become just another forgotten fella in an ocean of ignored people. Dan fought the fight, he persevered and finally got the place he deserved, where he could quietly chill, watch old westerns and read countless novels.
Rest in peace my friend; you deserved better, but now you’re in the hands of the One who makes everything right!
- J. Nicholls, staff contributor