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08.17.21 | Community & Lifestyle

Our Vision for 4108 and 4112 King Drive: A Conversation with Dwain Kyles

As we continue the renovation of the Sage Collective properties at 4108 and 4112 S King Drive, side-by-side buildings in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, we sat down with Board Member and VP for Legal & Development, Dwain Kyles, to understand the project and how it contributes to Sage’s vision for the future. 

Location is everything

Having owned and operated residential property in the Bronzeville neighborhood for more than 40 years, Kyles understands that these buildings were in the perfect location for Sage Collective..

Intending to add to the great cultural history that King Drive represents, Kyles imagines these properties will also foster secure, welcoming environments for the development and enhancement of intergenerational relationships in the future. 

“We want to be very intentional about building community, and we think that King Drive has an appeal of its own. What we hope to do is add to that appeal by providing tangible, beneficial places for gathering, along with programming that will ultimately strengthen the self-image and empowerment of older adults in the community,” says Kyles.

While the neighborhood itself is a large part of the appeal, the buildings’ adjacency to the historic Metropolitan (Apostolic) Community Church also generated interest and inspiration for the properties’ future. “Given the importance of a spiritual basis for the work we are doing, reflected in our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, the proximity to this iconic church was a good sign for us,” says Kyles, “and felt like more than just a coincidence.”

The Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church is brightly lit in sunlight on the corner of S. King Drive and E. 41 St.
The Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, adjacent to the 4108 and 4112 S King Drive properties

Introducing vibrant, high-quality, affordable living within these properties

“Rehabbing the two properties is no small undertaking,” explains Kyles. “Using our passion for vibrant, high-quality, affordable housing as a focus (a topic you can read more about here) we are putting incredible thought and care into the design and build out of the interior spaces. With the support of our board member Mary Frances De Rose, a renowned architectural gerontologist, we have been able to include accessible and supportive living enhancements for future residents of our properties that traditional housing for older adults lacks.” 

“The physical attributes of the buildings are being designed in such a way that we will accommodate some of the desires and conveniences for older adults that are often overlooked. I’m talking about lowering the light switches so someone in a wheelchair can easily reach them, ambient lighting, high-quality cabinetry that is accessible and easier to use, and bathrooms with tastefully designed safety features that will allow our older adult residents to feel both secure and at home,” reflects Kyles. 

The Bronzeville Mural located on 35th Street and State sits directly under the L line.
Bronzeville mural, located on 35th Street and State features the faces of many famous African-American icons

The vision stretches beyond the physical buildings 

Our passion for an exceptional quality of life for older adults goes beyond the physical space, however. This project, like other Sage residences for older adults in underserved communities, will come alive through the integration of interactive and exploratory programming.  

Kyles continues, “While the King Drive properties themselves are a jumping off point, we are focused on the longer-term desire for Sage Collective to serve as a catalyst for real change for our residents and neighbors, government and civic partners, and leaders in the business community by rethinking and redesigning our traditional approaches to providing housing for older adults in our black and brown communities.” 

“We tend to focus on what’s ‘new and poppin’ and what’s the hottest and the latest… while giving little care and attention to those things that have helped us to get where we are, including people. We have seen over and over again that distraction leading to deplorable outcomes and ones that have weakened the fabric of society,” explains Kyles.

Kyles continues, “Our vision for these properties on King Drive — along with all of our ambitious plans for the future — center around creating communities that are rich with diverse ages, families, cultures and experiences. By having the ability to rework the structural barriers hindering intergenerational and cultural interaction and progress, we are capable of establishing environments where there is an appreciation for people of all backgrounds and ages. And when we succeed, we’re stronger as a community, we’re stronger as a neighborhood, we’re stronger as a family,” and most important, we’re stronger as a collective.”

A headshot of Sage Collective's Board of Directors member Dwain Kyles
Board Member and VP for Legal & Development, Dwain Kyles
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03.30.21 | Health & Wellness

COVID-19 Vaccine Testimonial: Dwain Kyles

As part of our ongoing campaign to encourage and ramp up vaccination in Black communities across America, Sage Collective is creating testimonials that showcase why people have chosen to receive the coronavirus vaccine, and what the experience was like. To start, we’re engaging our own Board of Directors and Leadership Team to share their stories.

After sharing the experience of Sage Collective President Donna Gaines last week, this week we interviewed Dwain Kyles, an attorney and entrepreneur. He also serves as the Vice President Legal and Development of Sage Collective and a member of our Board of Directors. 


Why did you personally take the COVID-19 vaccine? Did you have any reservations or questions? Do you feel you had all the information you needed to make the decision to be vaccinated? What /who were your sources of information and guidance? 

I got the vaccine because I have chronic health conditions that make me a person that might not survive a COVID infection. I’m not ready to die.

I was skeptical at first because the politicization of the whole issue, as well as the historical timeframe required for developing and testing new vaccines, left me doubtful that a vaccine could be developed in such a short time. I am an avid news junkie, and as I saw more and more news reports and interviews with African American doctors and scientists who participated in the development and testing of the vaccine, I learned that the underlying technology involved in the vaccine has been around for more than a decade, they simply didn’t have the concentrated resources and demand to bring the vaccine to fruition.

I was also persuaded by the high profile public officials in healthcare, science and government that were getting the vaccine in front of the whole world.  They wouldn’t do that if they were afraid that they would have adverse reactions or if they thought the shots wouldn’t work.


When did you receive your COVID-19 vaccine and from what company (Moderna, Pfizer, etc.)? What was the experience of signing up/scheduling? Have you received both shots? Where did you have to go to get your vaccinations? What was the experience like of getting into the chair and actually receiving the shot? 

I got the Moderna vaccine last week. That was the soonest we could get it. It was my first shot. We were fortunate to have been signed up by a friend who is a public official. We were called about a week after he signed us up. We were in line in our car for about an hour and a half in the parking lots of a church that was not too far from where we live here in Florida. I simply rolled up my sleeve, after filling out my data sheet and handing it to the healthcare worker who gave me the shot. The shot itself was quick and pretty painless.  


How did you feel after receiving the vaccine, physically or otherwise? Did you experience any side effects?

I did have soreness at the injection site for a few days afterward, but other than that, I have had no side effects at all.


What is your doctor saying about how COVID-19 vaccination fits into your long term health plan? Are you taking any aftercare measures — if so, what?

Frankly, my doctor doesn’t know enough to speculate about how long the vaccine will last or when I might need to get another shot. We have agreed to continue to talk about it, so that as he learns more, he can share more.


Are you serving as a guide to others who are seeking information and reassurance about being vaccinated?

I’m sure that anyone who knows me knows that I am an advocate for getting this shot as soon as you can. If you want to get back to some semblance of a normal life, then this vaccine is essential.  Remember, it won’t necessarily keep you from catching COVID, but it significantly enhances your chances of surviving an infection without serious illness, or death, being a likely outcome.


Overall, what do you believe makes COVID-19 vaccination so important to society writ large, and in your specific community?

My community is disproportionately impacted by the most serious negative outcomes from COVID, as well as most other chronic diseases. Accordingly, if we are to survive this pandemic and reclaim anything like the lives we had, it simply cannot happen if we don’t vaccinate as many of our people as we possibly can, as soon as we can … period.

Image reads "If we are to survive this pandemic and reclaim anything like the lives we had, it simply cannot happen if we don't vaccinate as many of our people as we possibly can, as soon as we can, period." -Dwain Kyles on why he got the COVId-19 vaccine
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10.22.20 | Arts & Culture

The Sage Collective Story: From TSCP to Now

Sage Collective emerged in 2019 with the intention of pursuing affordable, vibrant and high-quality living for older adults. But before we were Sage Collective, we were Tabernacle Senior Citizens Project (TSCP) — and we wouldn’t be where we are today without the history that precedes us. To unpack the TSCP legacy, we spoke with Donna Gaines and Dwain J. Kyles, founding members of the Sage Collective Board of Directors.

TSCP: Faith Leads the Way

Tabernacle Senior Citizens Project began in 1978 as the brainchild of Reverend Louis Rawls, founder and pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago’s South Side. “Rev. Rawls was a prolific pastor and entrepreneur,” says Dwain J. Kyles. “In his efforts to address the needs of his congregation and the broader community, he established everything from hospitals to hotels to funeral homes. As Rev. Rawls grew older, his focus turned to elderly members of the congregation; and it was then that he decided to create a housing development that would offer safe, affordable and high-quality living for seniors.” Named after his wife, Dr. Rawls built Willa Rawls Manor, a 123-unit housing development adjacent to the Church.

“To say I was connected to Rev. Rawls would be an understatement,” says Kyles. “In the mid- 1950s, my father was the first youth pastor at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, and Rev. Rawls and his wife Willa were my godparents! My mother later moved to Willa Rawls Manor in her golden years.” Deeply invested in the work and its caring intentions, Kyles was quick to jump into action when he realized Rev. Rawls was becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of work required to manage all of the church’s projects in the community.. 

“Willa Rawls Manor became my passion project,” explains Kyles. “I was working pro-bono, looking to reinvest the time, energy and resources necessary to reinvigorate a building that was falling behind. Luckily, I was dating this amazing woman at the time… Donna had been President of the Board and provided operational oversight for a co-op of considerable size on the South Side, and was a person perfectly equipped to help lead the project, not just with experience, but more importantly, with a strong sense of passion and integrity.”

Willa Rawls Manor: Developing Culture

In inheriting Willa Rawls Manor, Dwain Kyles and Donna Gaines also inherited a building that was in disrepair and a team that was struggling to keep pace with inadequate resources. “I knew we could fix the building’s physical infrastructure,” says Gaines, “but it didn’t mean we could immediately fix how people felt about themselves or how they were living. With my background in social work, and being certified in change management, I knew true changemaking begins and ends with culture. And so that’s where we had to start.” 

“We worked tirelessly to get our staff invested in the work they were doing, and to get our residents engaged in the activities and efforts aimed at improving the conditions where they were living. We wanted everyone to have a voice, to feel they were contributing to a broader vision and to invest themselves in that experience. So as we made proactive investments to improve building maintenance and care, we also began to cultivate a culture of staff and residents that really believed in what we did,” tells Gaines.

The impact was tangible: “When we eventually sold Willa Rawls Manor after several decades, what remained was a new culture, one rooted in genuine mutual respect and love,” reflects Gaines. “When we had Christmas parties, rather than hightailing it out of there at five, the maintenance staff would stick around and dance with the older women. It was just pure joy. And when we built a rec room and added a flatscreen TV and nice recliners, we saw the pride residents took in having that space, and caring for it. The culture began at the top with our phenomenal Board Members, but it trickled down and permeated every part of the building — and affected every person.”

Sage Collective: An Evolved Vision

“We made the decision to sell Willa Rawls Manor because we saw a greater need. Working within the operational parameters of the Department of Housing and Urban Development limited how far our innovation could go,” explains Gaines. “We had been good stewards of TSCP’s funds and had built up a solid replacement reserve, and there was now appreciable equity in the building. We saw an opportunity to utilize these existing assets, to take the vision of Rev. Rawls to the next level and, with the money acquired from selling Willa Rawls, to design and develop the kind of housing and ancillary programming we know residents need. Having ample finances to do so gave us a greater degree of freedom to be truly expansive in our thinking, and to unleash our vision creatively, passionately and fully.” 

Thus, Sage Collective was born. Building on the legacy of TSCP and Rev. Rawls’ vision for safe, affordable, high-quality housing for older adults, Sage Collective seeks to enhance the older adult experience by introducing more vibrant ways of living and experiencing culture, while inviting intergenerational involvement for all to thrive together. 

“The intergenerational component is vital to us,” says Gaines, “because just as we continue to carry the torch for Rev. Rawls, we hope to share our gained knowledge and experience with those who follow. Legacy is important to us; people and culture are important to us; and we hope to develop a movement with Sage Collective — a movement that brings like-minded people together as a collective, and a movement that people everywhere can share in and benefit from.”

Quote reads: Legacy is important to us; people and culture are important to us; and we hope to develop a movement with Sage Collective."
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