Dion Dawson’s early lifetime might have been stuffed with poverty, hardship and bouts of homelessness, but his final two several years have been almost nothing brief of meteoric.
In early 2020, Dawson was functioning overnights at an Amazon facility to assist various family customers pay back expenses in the midst of a pandemic. But by the close of 2021, subsequent the demise of George Floyd, he had began a nonprofit aimed at reducing food insecurity and attained community recognition for his initiatives to present an oasis in a meals desert.
This thirty day period, Dawson, 34, was one particular of 18 folks from all over the globe selected for the really coveted Echoing Eco-friendly fellowship, which will assistance fund his initiatives: Undertaking Aspiration Fridge, a local community refrigerator in the coronary heart of Englewood wherever citizens obtain fresh fruit and vegetables stocked each day, and Desire Deliveries, which provides no cost food to properties throughout the metropolis and suburbs.
“I’ve been blessed to be in a position to dwell presently in the instant,” Dawson informed the Tribune. “When you appear from a history wherever your family members has struggled, exactly where you have to fret about wherever your subsequent meal will come from, it feels very good to really reside in that minute and be in a position to relish in the actuality that working day-to-working day operations are secure.”
Echoing Inexperienced is a corporate backed nonprofit that identifies foreseeable future leaders who have shown bold or progressive challenge fixing in topics ranging from wellness, human legal rights, poverty and racial justice. Previous initially girl Michelle Obama was a fellow in 1991.
Environmentally friendly fellows receive an $80,000 stipend in excess of 18 months and Dawson explained he would use the money to expand his foodstuff shipping and delivery company, which has achieved as significantly north as Evanston and west to Schiller Park. He programs to expand through Cook dinner County. He’s searching toward loftier objectives, with each and every $1 million elevated getting employed to feed 1,000 families in a 50-mile radius.
“Echoing Eco-friendly listened to me, listened to my tips on wherever I believe we have the most effective affect in altering the narrative in food stuff insecurity,” he stated, “and this is about getting to the root of the trouble and exactly where foods insecurity is wherever, not just in Englewood.”
The subject matter of foodstuff insecurity has a deep own resonance for Dawson, the youngest of four sons raised on the streets of Englewood by a single mom. He lived substantially of his younger everyday living in homelessness as his mother struggled with material abuse. Still, homelessness didn’t halt Dawson from ending school, graduating from Holmes Elementary and Gage Park Substantial educational facilities.
After returning from a six-12 months stint in the Navy, Dawson discovered himself homeless once more, residing in his car or truck, expressing he had a challenging changeover back to civilian existence.
Dawson’s everyday living took an unpredicted detour in May well 2020 pursuing Floyd’s death. A group member questioned Dawson to do a thing for his community in recognition of Juneteenth, an African American getaway that received popular assistance following Floyd’s demise at the palms of Minneapolis law enforcement. “I claimed I’m heading to feed 100 people,” Dawson recalled.
What adopted was a whirlwind that involved two profitable crowdfunding strategies to purchase contemporary fruits and veggies for families and the begin of his individual nonprofit, Dion’s Chicago Dream. That exact calendar year, Dawson and his wife have been amazed by discuss demonstrate host Ellen DeGeneres with a $25,000 check out on her display for his neighborhood function.
Dawson said a real issue of satisfaction is that his method has developed from 30 households to 250 and that his organization of five owns its delivery cars and pays the crew a living wage.
Dawson explained he remains committed to feeding individuals “no subject where they are. No subject if they are in Streeterville, Englewood, West Pullman. Foods insecurity doesn’t glimpse like a certain individual and it does not come in a sure community.”