March 1, 2022
When he first came to the RPC, Champaign’s Boris Brown felt as though his life was over. He had no income, no support, little food, and no hope. Now he is on the Board of Directors for a national organization and doing his part to make Champaign County a better place to live, crediting the RPC for helping get his life back on track. His inspiring story is the reason he is the RPC’s Families of Distinction Awardee for 2022.
Boris had just moved into transitional housing when he was assigned to his Case Manager, Lena Hoch. He had been homeless and living on the streets for over a year. While Boris thought the home would signal a new beginning, an abusive partner caused him to bravely leave that home, forcing him onto the streets once again.
Soon after, Boris was able to get into different transitional housing, setting him on a path by which Lena and the RPC could guide him as part of the No Limits program. “When I met Boris, he was hungry, recovering from serious medical issues, and seemingly distrusting,” Lena comments. “Sadly reporting that he felt as though his life was over, Boris had no income, no support, little food, and no hope.”
The RPC supported Boris and linked him to several different services to get him food and income through Champaign Township, while supporting him throughout the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process. He was also awarded with a Shelter Plus Care voucher, enabling him to move into an apartment of his own while receiving assistance with his utility bills through LIHEAP.
Once Boris became stabilized with housing, the RPC began working with him on budgeting and paying his bills on time, empowering him by helping him realize his many strengths. As he became more self-confident with Lena’s help, Boris no longer felt hopeless and started working on goals for his future. He took classes to become certified as an independently contracted peer evaluator for beauty schools nationwide.
“As I began services with the RPC, I felt hopeless, but they helped me become a more stable person by giving me support and the tools to progress towards a better life,” Boris says. “I feel so much more secure with an income, stable housing, and confidence. I continue to work hard on my goals and look forward to being productive and active in the community as I advocate and work with others.”
Most recently Boris has been placed on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Black and White Men Together (NABWMT), as well as being named co-chair of the group responsible for revising the chapter development manual. Fortunately for Champaign County, Boris is advocating and supporting the LGBQT community by starting a local NABWMT chapter. He also graduated in 2021 from The Odyssey Project, a college-accredited course in the Humanities taught by some of the top professors at the University of Illinois.
Boris Brown’s driving force is a passion for helping others move forward as well. The RPC is extremely proud of his accomplishments. He continues working hard at his goals and is an excellent representative of the Families of Distinction program. Boris will be one of 19 individuals or families honored at the upcoming Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies (IACAA) Annual Learning Conference being held virtually in late April. The honor recognizes a family or individual who has overcome great personal and social obstacles in their pursuit of self-sufficiency with the assistance of a Community Action Agency.