When Revolution MacInnes, 49, describes how over five years time he went from being homeless to co-founding his nonprofit, Become, the story reads like a script for a Hollywood movie.
It opens on a tragic note, builds interest in the plot line with a social media-inspired twist, and winds down with a happy ending, thanks to the therapeutic and housing support he received from Thrive Counseling Center in Oak Park.
“My ex-wife used to tell me I was depressed, because I would be depressed weeks at a time, but I did not know it,” he said. “I was an artist, and a photographer, and pretty successful. So, if I was depressed for two weeks, I would look at it as I am just waiting for the good part to come, when I would jump into the mania, and finish my work.”
Five years ago, at age 44, the mental illness revved up and everything MacInnes knew and loved fell away.
“In late summer of 2010, divorced, I moved in with my parents in Oswego,” said MacInnes. “I became homeless on Dec. 26 in 2010. On that Christmas day I had reached the point of ‘I don’t care about anything anymore’ and I did not really care what happened to me. It was in that moment of crisis that I had my Dad drop me off at a shelter in Oak Park.”
That’s when MacInnes began his journey back, supported by Housing Forward’s wrap-around emergency services for homeless individuals, including group therapy sessions.
It was through those therapeutic sessions that MacInnes says he became involved with Thrive, eventually qualifying as a participant in its West Cook Housing Initiative Program (WCHIP), and began re-booting his life with access to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him as having Bipolar Disorder.
In addition to being able to take residence in a WCHIP-held apartment in Oak Park, he received a range of case management services.
“After Rev’s mental health stabilized, he said he had a vision and he was going to start his own nonprofit. And now he has done that,” said Calvin Berg, his Supportive Housing Case Manager referring to MacInnes’s nonprofit venture, Become.
His Hollywood story arc arrived in the form of using Twitter at Starbucks.
“My ex-wife, through a wonderful gift, allowed me to keep this smartphone and use it while I was homeless,” he said. “So, in the mornings, I would stay in Starbucks between 7 and 9 a.m., because I still had a Starbucks gold card, and with it could stay there and be warm, safe and dry,” he said. “It allowed me to utilize Twitter, too, and in very small ways, help the lives of other homeless people.”
He credits the trifecta of Starbucks, Twitter and Thrive as being “crucial for my survival and eventually helped end my homelessness.
“Being bipolar is still an issue for me, because I do not work in any traditional way,” he says. “Every day is a new time for me to figure out a workaround for whatever the issue of the day might be for me,” he said. “I am bipolar, and I have to deal with it. But to live with it, what I first needed to do was admit that I needed that help.”