Category Archives: Homelessness

Aurora University interns help PADS expand services to Kendall County homeless

Brittani Dahlman recently received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Aurora University. She also earned an eclectic education in humanity. That’s because Ms. Dahlman, 22, served as an intern during this past school year for Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County.

I got to work with a wide variety of the human population–people with addictions, mental illness, a veteran, the younger, the older,” she said. “It was very exciting.”

Ms. Dahlman and fellow intern Andrea Spanier teamed up to develop PADS’ new Guest Assistance Program. The GAP enabled the nonprofit, homeless assistance organization to move beyond its basic mission of providing food and shelter to also assisting with employment, permanent housing, and social services.

“Andrea and Brittani pioneered this essential program this year,” said Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS.  “They applied their learning, experience, and skills to building relationships with the guests and were able to offer direction and critical support.”

For the past seven years, Kendall County PADS has been providing nourishing meals, overnight stays, and kind hospitality to the local homeless from mid-October through mid-April at seven area churches. This was the first shelter season during which PADS partnered with Aurora University’s prestigious School of Social Work.

The two interns augmented the assistance provided by a social worker from the Kendall County Health Department, who has been helping PADS guests for several years, going to the Thursday evening shelter site and connecting them to the department’s social services.

Ms. Dahlman focused primarily on the employment needs of her clients, helping them write résumés and cover letters. She is particularly proud of one guest whom she helped land a job at the Caterpillar plant in Montgomery, where he was able to save enough money to secure stable housing.

“He just said, ‘I’m going to pull myself up by the bootstraps,'” she recounted. “And once he got the job, he started asking to work extra hours and shifts.”

Ms. Spanier, 40, had a successful career in marketing and advertising until she developed health problems that stemmed from giving birth to her daughter, now eight years’ old. “When I was sick, I relied a lot on my mom, my step-mom, and my husband,” she recalled.

Her recovery experience inspired her to go back to college and major in social work at Aurora University, where she plans to earn her master’s degree next year. Her PADS internship entailed volunteering during the school year on Tuesday nights at Harvest New Beginnings church in Oswego and on Saturday evenings at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Montgomery.

She assisted PADS guests mostly with medical issues such as eye, dental, and mental healthcare. And she successfully steered a female guest with an alcohol problem into a 12-step program.

Kendall County PADS is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization funded by donations received through grants, gifts, private donors, organizations, and businesses. Those who wish to donate or volunteer may call (630) 553-5073 or visit the website kendallcountypads.org.

Ms. Dahlman volunteered on Monday nights at Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ and on Wednesday evenings at the United Methodist Church of Plano.

She begins working on her master’s degree at Aurora University next month and plans to continue volunteering at PADS in the fall. The soon-to-be graduate student hopes she won’t encounter any of her previous clients because that would mean that they had not obtained permanent housing. “But if I do see any of them, I will be happy to further help them in any way that I can.”

Ms. Spanier intends to specialize in gerontology because she wants to help the elderly, the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population. She also plans to volunteer her services again at PADS this fall, describing the work as its own reward. “The payment of social work is when that one person succeeds and you know that you’ve been a part of it.”

This article was written by Tom Siebert, PADS Assistant Director for Community Relations

100+ Women Help PADS Guests

The homeless have many hardships. In sprawling Kendall County, there is no public transportation. So the toughest challenge can be just getting to the temporary housing shelters that are provided during the colder months by area churches.

However, transportation will continue to be available to overnight guests of Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, thanks to a $2,200 donation from the local chapter of a worldwide philanthropic organization.

“Congratulations to Kendall County PADS, who was the chosen charity this quarter!” said Amber Dillbeck, president of 100+ Women Who Care of Greater Will County, which meets four times per year to hear five-minute presentations from three local charities.

“After presentations, a private vote is taken and the charity receiving the most votes is given a donation of one hundred dollars on the spot from each member,” explained Ms. Dillbeck, who heads one of the more than 400 global chapters of 100+ Women Who Care.

Last October, Kendall County PADS began its seventh season of providing meals and overnight housing to the homeless at seven churches on different nights of the week.

The shelters are open at 7 p.m. through April 15 on Sundays at Cross Lutheran Church, 8609 Route 47, Yorkville; Mondays, Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, 409 Center Parkway, Yorkville; Tuesdays, Harvest New Beginnings, 5315 Douglas Road, Oswego; Wednesdays, United Methodist Church of Plano, 219 North Hale Street, Plano; Thursdays, Trinity United Methodist Church, 2505 Boomer Lane, Yorkville; Fridays, Church of the Good Shepherd, 5 West Washington Street, Oswego; and Saturdays, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 53 Fernwood Road, Montgomery.

The overall travel distance from site to site is 57 miles. Moreover, the distance between churches ranges from 5 to 12 miles, making it difficult for anyone to walk the routes, especially in winter weather, and carrying a backpack or duffel bag. About half of PADS guests do not own vehicles, and in past years, some have traversed the treacherous routes on bicycles.

But with the new funding from 100+ Women Who Care, PADS will be able to continue its contract with Yorkville Express, a local taxi service that has been transporting the guests to and from the shelters. Yorkville Express provides rides nine times per week, some days in the mornings. Four nights per week, the taxi brings guests directly to the sites.

View the full article.

Kendall County PADS expresses thanks to donors and contributors as shelter season nears end

Fifteen-year-old Sydney Gonzales wanted to help the less fortunate in her community. When she heard about Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, her compassion was directed towards the local homeless population.

“I thought about what it must be like to be out in the cold during the winter,” Sydney said. “And I wanted to do something to help keep them warm.”

So the home-schooled, National Honor Society student began asking members of her church, St. Patrick Parish in Yorkville, for donations. “I was shocked at how much I got,” she said. “It was amazing.”

Sydney received hundreds of donated items that she then assembled into “winter care kits.” The kits contained gloves, hand warmers, lip balm, and boxes of tissue.

She hopes they will keep PADS guests warm for the rest of its season, which lasts until April 16 at seven area churches. They are: Cross Lutheran Church in Yorkville; Yorkville Congregational United Church; Harvest New Beginnings in Oswego; United Methodist Church of Plano; Trinity United Methodist Church in Yorkville; Church of the Good Shepherd in Oswego; and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Boulder Hill. Extra kits will be used when the next PADS season begins in October.

“It was an honor to help my community,” said Sydney, who plans to continue contributing to society in a career as a forensic psychiatrist.

Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS, is grateful to Sydney, the St. Patrick’s contributors, and the outpouring of generosity that she witnesses on a regular basis.

“Almost weekly, someone donates clothing, boots, or shoes, hygiene products, and sometimes toys to be offered to homeless guests of PADS,” Anne said. “Individuals, as well as groups, have made contributions this year.”

For instance, Suzy’s Pizza of Yorkville has been donating “care bags” of food to PADS. The Fox Valley Flyers girls’ gymnastic team collected 138 items of cold-weather clothing. Salon Giovani in Plainfield donated coats, boots, scarves, gloves, mittens, and sweatshirts. And Cub Scout Pack 348 of Oswego brought cookies one night to the PADS site at St. Luke’s church.

She is also appreciative to the Caring Hands Thrift Shop in Yorkville, which donates clothing vouchers to PADS guests. And to the Kendall County Food Pantry, under the direction of Maria Spaeth, which provides PADS guests with much-needed storage for hygiene and personal care products.

Then there are the local residents who donate their time and talent to PADS. For the past four winter seasons, hair stylist Bonnie Taylor has been giving free haircuts to homeless guests who would like a cut or trim.

“She brings her hair-cutting tools and a smile,” Anne said. And when Bonnie is not available, Angelique Reeser of Yorkville fills in to cut hair, she added.

While expressing thanks for those individual acts of generosity, the executive director did not want to overlook the many monetary donors who have sustained Kendall County PADS since it began serving the community in 2010.

“I’m personally grateful for the steady flow of financial contributions from organizations, churches, businesses, agencies, families, and individuals who have given in varying amounts–thousands from particular businesses to as little as one dollar from a girl scout.”

Churches that have contributed to PADS include Au Sable Grove Presbyterian in Yorkville; Church of the Good Shepherd, Oswego; Emmanuel Lutheran, Aurora; First Baptist, Plano; First Lutheran, Plano; Harvest Chapel Assembly of God, Sandwich; Harvest Chapel Assembly of God, Sandwich; Immanuel Lutheran, Yorkville; New Life Fellowship, Aurora; New Song Community, Aurora; Saint Aidan’s, Oswego; Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran, Somonauk; Trinity United Methodist, Yorkville; United Methodist, Millington; United Methodist, Plano; and Yorkville United Congressional.

Area townships that have donated to PADS are Big Grove, Bristol, Fox, Kendall, Little Rock, Lisbon, Oswego, and Seward.

Business donors include Wines for Humanity, Naperville; Heartland Bank; Jimmy John’s; Yorkville McDonald’s; JMS Electronics, Yorkville; Rosati’s of Yorkville; Wal-Mart; Buona Beef; and Yorkville Culver’s.

Donating organizations include the Somonauk Junior Woman’s Club; Raven Lodge # 303 A.F. and A.M., Oswego; Yorkville Education Association; Yorkville School District student groups; Girl Scout Troop 1441; Kendall Lodge # 471 A.F. and A.M; Friends of Sheriff Randall; Sunbeam Lodge # 428 A.F. and A.M., Plano; Leon Burson American Legion Post 395, Plano; Rotary Club of Oswego; Kendall County Association of Chiefs of Police; Yorkville Women’s Club; Yorkville American Legion; Plano Lions Club; Yorkville Citizens Police Academy Alumni; Yorkville Women of the Moose; Royal Arch Masons of Aurora, Chapter 22; Cryptic Masons of Aurora, Council 45; Grand Commandery Knights Templar of Aurora, No. 22; and the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ms. Engelhardt said the ongoing financial contributions allow Kendall County PADS to be singularly devoted to its purpose: “We have enough income to cover all our operational expenses. We are able to focus our time and energy on our mission of providing safe, overnight shelter, nourishing food, and warm hospitality to our homeless guests.”

Those who wish to volunteer or donate may do so online at http://www.kendallcountypads.org or by calling (331) 207-8903.

Kendall homeless face tough time finding permanent housing

The homeless may face more financial challenges in securing permanent affordable housing in Kendall County than in any other metropolitan area in Illinois, according to a recent statewide study.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Illinois is $977, said Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action Illinois, which conducted the study.

“In order to afford this level of rent and utilities––without paying more than 30 percent of income on housing––a household must earn at least $39,067 annually,” Palmer asserted. “Assuming a 40-hour workweek, 52 hours per year, this level of income translates into a housing wage of $18.78.”

In Kendall County, however, that projected housing wage rises to $22.52 per hour, the highest of 15 metropolitan areas in the state, the study, entitled “Out of Reach,” found.

A Kendall worker making the state minimum wage of $8.25 per hour would have to work 93 hours in a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the county.

Kendall County Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) is sensitive to the often out-of-reach housing costs in the community, said Anne Engelhardt, executive director of the nonprofit agency. That’s why Kendall County PADS is committed to another season of providing temporary, safe shelter and nourishing food to the men, women, and children within the county who are homeless or just in need, Engelhardt said.

Since 2010, Kendall County PADS has assisted more than 300 men, women, and children, she stated. That translates into 5,794 overnight stays and 17,369 meals served to the agency’s “guests.”

From Oct. 18, 2015, through April 16, 2016, Kendall County PADS will provide homeless shelters from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. And once again, seven churches have graciously offered to host PADS guests at the following sites.

 

 

Affordable Housing?

In Illinois, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $977. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this translates into a hourly wage of $18.78. The trouble is that in Illinois, minimum wage workers earn $8.25 per hour. Read more…

With statistics like these, it’s no surprise that many men, women and children in Kendall County are struggling to keep their homes and apartments. With winter right around the corner, the need to serve our county’s homeless has never been greater.

If you’re facing homelessness, we want to help. If you’re considering volunteering, please contact us. We need more than 500 volunteers each PADS “season”, to effectively serve the county’s homeless from October through April.

Right now, we’re training volunteers, equipping facilities, and praying that God touches the hearts of volunteers across the county and beyond.

We’ve redesigned our website to serve both guests and volunteers better. We welcome your feedback and look forward to working with you to better serve our guests this season.