Formerly homeless Navy vet and Englewood native receives $80K to expand healthy food delivery


Dion Dawson’s early daily life may well have been crammed with poverty, hardship and bouts of homelessness, but his final two yrs have been nothing at all small of meteoric.

In early 2020, Dawson was doing work overnights at an Amazon facility to assist several household users shell out payments in the midst of a pandemic. But by the end of 2021, adhering to the loss of life of George Floyd, he experienced begun a nonprofit aimed at eliminating food insecurity and gained general public recognition for his endeavours to present an oasis in a meals desert.

This month, Dawson, 34, was just one of 18 people from all over the globe selected for the hugely coveted Echoing Environmentally friendly fellowship, which will assistance fund his initiatives: Task Desire Fridge, a community refrigerator in the coronary heart of Englewood in which inhabitants obtain clean fruit and greens stocked day-to-day, and Dream Deliveries, which provides free food stuff to homes throughout the town and suburbs.

“I’ve been blessed to be equipped to live presently in the instant,” Dawson advised the Tribune. “When you come from a track record wherever your household has struggled, wherever you have to worry about the place your next meal will appear from, it feels superior to in fact are living in that second and be equipped to relish in the simple fact that working day-to-working day operations are protected.”

Echoing Green is a corporate backed nonprofit that identifies future leaders who have revealed bold or ground breaking problem fixing in topics ranging from wellbeing, human rights, poverty and racial justice. Previous initially lady Michelle Obama was a fellow in 1991.

Eco-friendly fellows obtain an $80,000 stipend over 18 months and Dawson stated he would use the income to expand his meals supply provider, which has reached as considerably north as Evanston and west to Schiller Park. He ideas to increase in the course of Cook dinner County. He’s hunting toward loftier targets, with each and every $1 million elevated staying made use of to feed 1,000 families in a 50-mile radius.

“Echoing Environmentally friendly listened to me, listened to my suggestions on where by I think we have the ideal effect in shifting the narrative in meals insecurity,” he stated, “and this is about getting to the root of the problem and the place meals insecurity is any where, not just in Englewood.”

The subject 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 a lot of his youthful existence in homelessness as his mother struggled with compound abuse. Still, homelessness didn’t stop Dawson from ending college, graduating from Holmes Elementary and Gage Park Higher colleges.

Just after returning from a six-calendar year stint in the Navy, Dawson located himself homeless once again, dwelling in his car, expressing he experienced a difficult transition back to civilian everyday living.

Dawson’s everyday living took an surprising detour in May 2020 following Floyd’s demise. A local community member questioned Dawson to do a little something for his community in recognition of Juneteenth, an African American getaway that obtained prevalent support pursuing Floyd’s death at the arms of Minneapolis law enforcement. “I explained I’m heading to feed 100 family members,” Dawson recalled.

What adopted was a whirlwind that integrated two prosperous crowdfunding strategies to invest in contemporary fruits and vegetables for family members and the start of his have nonprofit, Dion’s Chicago Dream. That similar year, Dawson and his spouse were being amazed by talk exhibit host Ellen DeGeneres with a $25,000 verify on her present for his community operate.

Dawson claimed a real stage of delight is that his software has developed from 30 homes to 250 and that his group of 5 owns its shipping autos and pays the crew a living wage.

Dawson claimed he remains fully commited to feeding people today “no make a difference wherever they are. No matter if they are in Streeterville, Englewood, West Pullman. Foodstuff insecurity doesn’t glance like a selected particular person and it does not occur in a particular community.”

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Twitter @Midnoircowboy





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