How a Homeless Paraplegic Dancer Found Stability Again

Sometimes what a person needs to escape poverty begins with a hand up from the community.

Meet Rodney, a renowned dancer originally from New Zealand. In 2013, Rodney was let go from his dance company and found himself homeless in San Francisco. He recounts in his story below, downsizing from five backpacks to four backpacks to just one.

For years Rodney toured across the United States with his national troupe, and recently received the prestigious San Francisco Isadora Duncan Dance Award. His talent is unique as Rodney’s passion for dance was born out of an unfortunate accident — he is a paraplegic. Rodney performs in a style called physically integrated dance that combines those with and without disabilities in a beautiful art form.

Nine months ago, following the loss of his job, Rodney became a member on HandUp through our partner Project Homeless Connect. His first goal was to raise enough money to purchase a small laptop in order to seek employment and communicate with his family back home in New Zealand. After just a few weeks Rodney reached his goal. Following this first milestone, Rodney has successfully fundraised to repair his wheelchair, cover his transportation costs, and meet other basic needs to move himself forward from homelessness.

“The support I have received has made the possibility for new beginnings, bringing a heightened sensitivity and care to how I live. I can now see anew, and live more in harmony with the changes life brings, and fulfill my capacity to be fully alive, creative, and responsive. Most recently I have experienced a radical transformation and capacity to pursue my dance career because of your generous contribution. I’ve been able to get wheelchair repairs done and also travel to and from rehearsals using public transport. Nutrition is very important so I’ve been able to obtain healthy fruits, vegetables and protein supplements as I’m vegetarian.” — Rodney

Today Rodney is in stabilization housing and working with a new dance company in San Francisco. His story is an inspiration to us and we’re honored to be able to share it.

Anyone’s life can take a detour no matter where they start. 610,042 people are homeless* on any given night in the United States. Homelessness for some can range from days to months, and for other it can be years on the street. Sometimes what a person needs to move forward from poverty begins with a hand up from the community. Rodney has overcome many great challenges in his life, and he continues to work towards long term housing and being fully back on “two wheels.” Learn more about Rodney and how you can give him a hand up.

*National Alliance to End Homelessness

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