Three years ago, Tony Simmons slept on the streets. Today he is one of Maryland’s leading advocates for ending homelessness.
A few years ago Tony overcame drug addiction, but during the struggle he lost everything. He found himself on the street in October of 2011, and by the time Christmas arrived, isolation and hopelessness had driven him to despair.
Two things allowed Tony to overcome the worst crisis of his life:
- Helping Others: Becoming an advocate
Tony found a reason to keep going each day by making life easier for those around him. Like you and me, he wanted to make sure other people got basic necessities, like shoes, blankets, or a hot meal. His desire to help and make a difference led him to become involved in advocacy efforts, with HCH and other organizations working to create change.
- “HCH University”: Finding and building community
Just like you, Tony thrives on seeking knowledge and enrichment. He joined the HCH men’s group, art therapy group, and the writers’ group, which he affectionately calls his “HCH University” experience. He also became a leader on the HCH Consumer Relations Committee. Because you support “whole person” care, Tony, and others just like him, take charge of their health and reconnect with social support, employment, and housing.
“Tony is a real life superhero,” says Vanessa, HCH Community Organizer. In November, Tony was nominated by his peers and awarded the 2014 HCH Community Champion Award.
With the help of our strong partners in the community, HCH staff equipped Tony with the resources he needed to triumph in spite of homelessness. And because our supporters opened the door for Tony, he’s taking action to bring about lasting change. Throughout the year, I’ve had the privilege of serving with Tony on the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. Whether testifying before the city council, the state legislature, or Congress, Tony is driven to make sure that no one is forgotten.
You can read more about Tony’s heroic advocacy work in the Atlantic Magazine and the Baltimore Sun. And you can listen to a discussion with Tony and other experts about converting Baltimore’s vacant rowhomes into affordable housing on the Marc Steiner Show.
You can make more heroic transformations possible today, with a gift of $50 or more at donate.hchmd.org.