Ives honors hero to homeless veterans
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) took a moment out of a busy House floor debate recently to celebrate Robert Adams of Winfield, an Illinoisan who has helped hundreds of homeless veterans through his charitable work.
“Members, today we have with us a very distinguished veteran,” Ives said as she introduced Adams. “Bob Adams created the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans. He is the co-founder of an institution that this year will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Over the last 10 years, Bob Adams has helped nearly 1,400 veterans and their families by providing transitional housing assistance to homeless veterans.”
A Navy combat vet, Adams has made the center into an important part of the community. For his various social works, Adams was honored with a Distinguished Practitioner in Social Work Award in 2005 and a Red Cross Hometown "Military Hero" Award in 2009.
Adams will retire in April, leaving behind a legacy that continues to help thousands.
“[Mr. Adams] has started a third home that works with homeless women veterans,” Ives said. “Additionally, he has expanded his program to include supportive services in nearly seven counties around Chicagoland. His work is monumental.”
Adam’s desire to help was defined by his firsthand experience of war: He took part in the famously brutal Battle of the Khe Sanh in the Vietnam War.
“He was in the lead battalion,” Ives said. “He was a combat medic. He saved many lives in his role in the military … and he is saving even more lives now as he works to move people from homelessness to independence.”
Returning from war in 1970, Adams struggled. He found solace in alcohol and drugs as his life spiraled out of control, eventually living in his car for a month before returning to his parents’ house.
As he recovered, Adams had an epiphany: He realized there were far too many homeless vets and decided to change it.
He went back to school, earned a master’s degree in social work in 1995 at Loyola University Chicago and founded the shelter in 2000, although it would be seven years before he could find a location and officially open.
“His record is amazing,” Ives said. “What he started as simply as a normal human individual reaching out to serve others … has expanded even, I think, his dreams. He has a commissary program where he supports folks with food and household goods. He has taken on the role of moving people out of homelessness and into fully functioning positions. He has an over 80 percent [success] rate in doing so. He has taken what really was a not-for-profit donation-driven institution with some support from VA funds and made an incredible organization.”
Ives concluded her address by reflecting on how Adams is an example for everyone.
“We need to replicate Bob’s model,” she said. “We need to appreciate what he did as just an ordinary citizen getting involved. Not a particularly wealthy man. Not a particularly connected man. [But he] saw a need and filled it on his own.”
The shelter will host a celebration of its 10th anniversary and a tribute and farewell to Adams on April 30.
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1725 S Naperville Rd Suite 200
Wheaton, IL 60189