In 1972, Bill Dillon put everything else on hold and committed himself to care for the lives and hearts of Chicago’s inner-city children. Bill founded the ministry of Inner City Impact and for the next 45 years, with the support of his wife Sandy, was both the anchor and driving force behind the organization’s work. Around Bill grew a team of volunteers, donors and missionaries that were united in their passion to offer children help in their present challenges as well as hope for the future.
Ministry was not Bill’s first pursuit. He first honed his business skills with an MBA from Murray State University. There he met Sandy and, after building the necessary courage, asked her to join a campus Bible study he was leading. After several months Sandy gave her life to the Lord and Bill and Sandy gave their hearts to each other. After more than 50 years of marriage, Bill and Sandy are proud parents of 3, and grandparents of 9. They have also adopted countless friends, volunteers and church members into the ICI family as others catch their passion for helping those in need.
Ministry was a familiar setting for Bill as both his grandfather and father were well known nonprofit leaders in Chicago. His grandfather, Rev. Michael Dillon led the Sunshine Gospel Mission from 1918 until his passing in 1943. His son, Rev. William Dillon Sr. then took over. Rev. Dillon was an evangelist and musician who ministered to thousands through the hymns he composed, commentaries he wrote, and leadership of organizations such as the Sunshine Gospel Mission and the New Tribes Mission in Chicago.
After its inception, ICI rapidly gained steam. In its first year, 1972-1973, winter and summer camps helped broaden ICI’s appeal to the community as well as supporting churches and individuals. By its second year, the ministry had a permanent home on North Avenue in Humboldt Park and developed a partnership Moody Bible Institute in order to fill volunteer needs while providing students with ministry experience.
In the following years, ICI’s programming expanded to include Sports Leagues and a Leadership Development Program for aspiring young leaders who were developing a passion to share Christ with others. In 1986, a movie theater in Logan Square was transformed into a second youth center. ICI had cemented itself as a trusted member of the community where staff were committed to live alongside the families they served.
In 1992, Bill sensed the needs and challenges of those around him who were struggling to raise personal support as missionaries. Drawing on the entrepreneurial spirit of his family, Bill wrote and published “People Raising: A Practical Guide to Raising Funds.” The book, (now in a 14th printing) along with accompanying workshops has helped equip hundreds of missionaries to fulfill their calling.
In 2009 Cicero was chosen as the next community that ICI would expand to. This move occurred in conjunction with an inevitable move out of the Humboldt Park center due to changing demographics and gentrification. By 2013, the Cicero ministry had found its home in the form of a renovated youth center. The community embraced ICI’s presence in Cicero and annually attendance grew to over 500 in less than 5 years.
Bill and Sandy have built a monumental legacy: completing more than 100 years of ministry over 3 generations; 45 years as CEO of ICI and the enduring title of Founder; recognition as MBI’s alumnus of the year in 2005. Bill is appreciated for his gifts as an author, speaker, board member, and leader. However, those who most appreciate his years of dedication to building God’s kingdom are the individuals who can look back on their lives and see how God used Bill and ICI to draw them to their Lord and Savior. Countless children first heard the Good News at ICI, and those who responded in the early years of ICI have been sharing and making disciples themselves for over a generation. The multiplying effect of ICI has and will continue to ripple across this city and this country.
Retired from his roles at ICI, Bill now resides in Naples Florida and offers his years of experience to other nonprofit organizations as the CEO of the Dillon Consultancy.