Watching lives positively change before my eyes…

While looking for my next professional gig, it was my honor and privilege to work with Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago to help them draw attention to a wonderful down payment assistance program event.  We got tons of media exposure which ensured that many area families who want to become homeowners had an opportunity to apply.

Hundreds of Cook County residents who wanted to become homeowners lined up at McCormick Place to apply for $15,000 grants to help with down payments.

$8 million in grant money is being invested in this program in Chicago to help those who want to become homeowners in low to moderate income neighborhoods. It’s seen as one way to combat violence and crime in at-risk communities.

The money is provided by Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFT program, but eligibility is determined by my client, nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago.

To qualify for a down payment assistance grant, annual income cannot exceed $67,700 for up to a family of four. Veterans, teachers, and first responders can receive $17,500.

I was struck by the incredible back-stories of those seeking to receive a grant.  One young man shared that he and his siblings became homeless, living on the streets, after his mother’s sudden death five years ago  He received one of the $15,000 grants and soon will become a homeowner, forever changing his life’s story. Another, a single-mother of three young children and an elementary school teacher, shared that after a difficult divorce one year ago, she was struggling financially, with a credit score in the low 200’s.  Her landlord told her that he would be selling the home in which she and her children lived within the year.  Upon hearing this news, she buckled down, worked hard to improve her credit, and today received a $17,500 down payment grant that will go towards purchasing her landlord’s home.  Another woman told me that one year ago her husband of 15 years died suddenly, leaving her without a steady income, in debt, and facing uncertainty.  Today, because of the down payment grant, she will purchase a home one block from her daughter’s home, where she will begin the next chapter in her life.


Check out some of the incredible stories shared by Chicago media:

WGN-TV News Coverage 

NBC 5 Chicago News Coverage

ABC 7 Chicago News Coverage


Chicago Sun Times

Univision Chicago News Coverage 

We All Stand On the Shoulders Of Those Who Came Before…

I’m really enjoying my volunteer work bringing attention to the issue of LGBTQ persecution in the world, and specifically, what obstacles and issues face those seeking political asylum in the U.S. As I talk about this to media and others, I constantly think, By the Grace of God, it could be me.  It could be any of us.

If this topic resonates and is of interest to you – I encourage you to attend an event being held next week at The Center On Halsted featuring U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley and others.  See event flyer and my press release below:

If Not US, Who_ – Flyer


All Aboard USA Committee
Rainbow Railroad

Media Contact: Andrew Hayes, 312-823-4333

Panel Discussion About LGBTQI+ Persecution throughout the World
Thursday, August 16 @ 6:30 p.m. Center on Halsted

CHICAGO – The All Aboard USA Committeeof Rainbow Railroadannounces a public event on Thursday, August 16th, at 6:30 p.m., at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago 60613 entitled, “If Not US, Who?: The Struggle of LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum-Seekers.”

U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) willopen the event and invite a panel of experts, along with an asylum-seeker, to share their compelling perspectives on the challenges facing LGBTQ throughout the world and what the Chicago community can do to help. LamHo, Founder & Executive Director of the Community Activism Law Alliance, will moderate the event. Panelists include:

  • Mike Jarecki, Director, Board of Governors, American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Jackie Kaplan Perkins, Director, Chicago & Midwest Human Rights Watch
  • Joanna Thompson, Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator for the Center on Halsted
  • Eduardo Hernandez, U.S. Development Officer, Rainbow Railroad

Event registration is available online.  Register here. Tickets are $10.  Like and follow for updated news on the group’s Facebook event page.


In 2017, Bruce Koff and Lori Cannon, well-known community activists and leaders were inspired by the actions of Artem Kolesov, a young, gay, virtuoso violinist who came out to his home country of Russia, forsaking his ability to return home safely. With the support of the Chicago LGBTQ community and allies, Artem obtained permanent resident status in the U.S. Other LGBTQI+ individuals worldwide continue to face unspeakable horror including detention, imprisonment, beatings, torture, and even death. This year’s event “If Not US, Who? The Struggle of LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum-Seekers” will turn our attention to them and the ways compassionate Chicagoans can help.

Event sponsors include Rainbow RailroadCenter on HalstedWindy City Times, and the Chicago Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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