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Nikyra, a Housing Initiatives client, will share her poetry at the Talent Showcase.

Housing Initiatives will host a spring social gathering and Talent Showcase on Tuesday, April 25, at the Brink Lounge to celebrate its diverse clients who have overcome many obstacles and have found a path to recovery.

“The idea came from years of providing permanent housing to folks with mental illnesses. There’s a stigma that comes along with people who have mental illnesses and we want to combat that,” says Dean Loumos, executive director at Housing Initiatives. “Our clients have amazing stories to tell. They’ve been through many hardships, but with the help of permanent housing and a variety of support services, they can find a path to a healthier life. Their stories may change the way you think about mental illness and homelessness.”

Dean Loumos, Housing Initiatives Executive Director
Dean Loumos, Housing Initiatives Executive Director

The event is a chance to find out more about the stories of interesting clients of Housing Initiatives, which provides the city’s most vulnerable homeless neighbors with hope and healing.

“Part of what we’re doing with this event is really demonstrating to people the extraordinary relationships and people we have met over the years and to showcase their abilities,” Loumos tells Madison365. “We’re going to raise awareness of Housing Initiatives by asking some of our very talented tenants to come and show what they can do. They are really creative and can do extraordinary things.”

For over 20 years, Housing Initiatives has ended homelessness for hundreds of men, women, and veterans who suffer from a mental illness by providing them with a permanent home and supportive services to help them lead a healthier life.

“Last Thursday, we just purchased two buildings that will house 15 people in by-the-book best-practice Housing First program,” Loumos says of the units on Madison’s north side close to Warner Park. “We’re ramping up that program.”

Housing Initiatives’ permanent, supportive housing model has been highly successful – 95 percent of its clients never return to homelessness. Today, they house nearly 300 people, 50 of them veterans, and they own 31 small multi-family apartment buildings.

The Housing Initiatives’ Talent Showcase will start at 6 p.m. It will feature three of Housing Initiatives’ talented clients: Nikyra will share her poetry, Nahanh will give the crowd a sample of his hip hop dancing and Danielle will provide the grand finale with her highly popular drag queen performance. All three will also share their inspiring stories of hope and recovery after homelessness.

In addition, two clients will have their artwork on display throughout the event: Calvin will share his unique watercolor paintings and Darryl will display his intricate sci-fi inspired models. Two pictures of Calvin’s watercolor pieces of art will be for sale at the event.

Calvin McFarlane
Calvin McFarlane

Christine Ameigh, owner of Slide Food Cart & Catering, will be sponsoring the event and will be providing her famous home-baked potato chips among other delicious treats. The event is free, but Loumos is also calling it a “friend-raiser.”

“Just to show how cool it is to work with the people that I work with and provide permanent stable housing for these group of folks who because of their illnesses struggle with maintaining their physical and mental well-being but still can contribute and move their lives forward in very positive ways,” Loumos says. “And, of course, if someone wants to help us out with a little donation, that would be wonderful.”

As the only organization in Madison that focuses exclusively on ending homelessness for those who suffer from severe mental illness, Loumos says he hopes people won’t miss this opportunity to learn about personal struggles and healing.

“It’s going to be a fun event, but it’s also going to be a chance for people to learn a little more about Housing Initiatives if they want to,” Loumos says. “This event will showcase some of the talented people who have overcome their illness and become ‘stars.’ In the years I have worked with our most vulnerable, I have met some extraordinary people with extraordinary stories. Wait until you see some of our performers.”

The Talent Showcase will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 5-7 p.m. at the Brink Lounge. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP for the event at housinginitiatives.org.

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.

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