Nicor Gas grant fuels transportation for guests of Kendall County PADS

By Tom Siebert

In a wide-open county with no public transportation, the homeless often have a hard time just getting to the seven shelter sites run by Kendall County PADS during the colder months of the year.

But thanks to a $2,500 grant from Nicor Gas, the long roads to food, shelter, counseling, employment and other services will continue to be open to PADS guests, according to Anne Engelhardt, executive director of the homeless support group.

“The guests of PADS are people who are often unseen, at the margins of our local society,” Ms. Engelhardt said. “They are poor socio-economically and suffer from mental, emotional and social issues. PADS strives to help them get to local social services and supports them becoming and staying employed.  Providing transportation is an important way we can help.”

PADS PHOTOMark Knox, director of resource management forecasting at Nicor Gas, and Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS, hold up giant check representing the grant that the energy company recently gave to the homeless support group.

The grant from the Naperville-based energy company will permit PADS to continue contracting with Kendall Area Transit and Yorkville Express, an area taxi service that has been providing transportation to the homeless guests for the past few shelter seasons.

“Nicor Gas believes it’s important to give back to the communities we serve,” said Mark Knox, director of the firm’s resource management forecasting.  “We’re proud to support Kendall County PADS. With our support we can help them meet the basic human needs of our society.”

Mr. Knox and his wife, Cheryl, also volunteer at one of the seven PADS shelter that are open one overnight per week from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. through April 14.

The nights and sites are as follows:

  • Sundays, Cross Lutheran Church, 8609 Route 47, Yorkville
  • Mondays, Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, 409 Center Parkway, Yorkville
  • Tuesdays, Harvest New Beginnings church, 5315 Douglas Road, Oswego
  • Wednesdays, Parkview Christian Academy, upper campus, 202 East Countryside Parkway, Yorkville
  • Thursdays, Trinity United Methodist Church, 2505 Boomer Lane, Yorkville
  • Fridays, Church of the Good Shepherd, 5 West Washington Street, Oswego
  • Saturdays, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 53 Fernwood Road, Montgomery

The overall travel distance from site to site is more than 50 miles. Moreover, the distance between the sites can be as far as 13 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 traveled the treacherous routes on bicycles.

PADS guests receive a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, breakfast and a packaged lunch to go. They also receive help with employment, social services and housing referrals. Those who wish to donate or volunteer at a shelter site may call (630) 553-5073 or visit the website at

Nicor is a natural-gas distribution company, serving more than 2 million customers in an area that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois.



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Kendall County community gives generously to PADS

By Tom Siebert

Midway through its eighth season of providing nutritious meals and overnight shelter to the area’s homeless community, Kendall County PADS has received an outpouring of donations that have helped its guests get through what has thus far been an unusually harsh winter.

The homeless support group has received generous gifts from churches, businesses, civic organizations, and individual citizens, according to Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS.

“I am very grateful for the tremendous community support for people living with homelessness,” said Ms. Engelhardt. “We have not had to do any fundraising activities. Instead, our time and energy go into volunteering at the shelter sites.”

One longtime donor to PADS is the Fox Valley Family YMCA, where gymnastics director Karen Oelker led a fundraising effort late last year that garnered $400 from coaches and participants at the Plano facility.

Ms. Oelker said that every year she works with her team captains to come up with a way to give back to the community. In recent years, the YMCA has donated winter clothing, laundry detergent, and laundromat cards for PADS guests.

“This really made the girls think about how real this was, and we then decided this is what we would be fundraising for,” she recalled.

So they held an open gym and advertised it as a “parents’ night out,” with profits going to Kendall County PADS.

Why does the Y do this?

“I believe part of my job is to help these young ladies grow up to be caring individuals and tomorrow’s leaders,” Ms. Oelker explained. “We have plans to do this even bigger this year.”

At Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville, the second grade class of teacher Kristen Dudding collected and donated to PADS guests dozens of toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, bars of soap, and other hygiene items.

PADS photo.jpg

Becky Grace of Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group in Yorkville also organized a PADS drive. Coldwell Banker agents and clients donated paper goods, hygiene items, pre-paid laundry cards, NCG movie passes, and gift cards for McDonald’s and Walgreens. In addition, Coldwell Banker collected nine large boxes of winter outdoor clothing (coats, hats, gloves, and scarves). And the real estate firm donated funds to the Kendall County Community Food Pantry, a PADS partner.

Some area residents found innovative ways to give to PADS. David Edelman, a 1987 graduate of Oswego High School, raised $500 from his fellow classmates at a recent reunion. And Yorkville resident April Morsch used her Facebook page, April’s Awesome Attic, to collect coats, scarves, gloves, and boots––as well as a monetary contribution––from her friends and neighbors.

Also donating to Kendall County PADS this shelter season were the American Legion Riders, Oswego; Au Sable Grove Presbyterian Church, Yorkville; Church of the Good Shepherd, Oswego; First Baptist Church, Plano; Kendall Lodge 471 A.F. & A.M., Yorkville; the Marian Fathers of St. Mary Catholic Church, Plano; Masonic Raven Lodge #303, Oswego; the Men’s Group at Trinity United Methodist Church, Yorkville; St. John’s Lutheran Church, Somonauk; the sixth grade classes at Emily G. Jones School, Plano; United Methodist Women, Yorkville; Wheaton Title and Trust; Wines for Humanity, Naperville; and the Yorkville Junior Women’s Club.

There were other donors who asked to remain anonymous, Ms. Engelhardt stated. Those who wish to donate or volunteer at a shelter site may call (630) 553-5073 or visit the website at

Each of the seven Kendall County PADS shelters remains open one overnight per week from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. through April 14. The nights and sites are as follows:

  • Sundays: Cross Lutheran Church, 8609 Route 47, Yorkville
  • Mondays: Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, 409 Center Parkway, Yorkville
  • Tuesdays: Harvest New Beginnings church, 5315 Douglas Road, Oswego
  • Wednesdays: Parkview Christian Academy, upper campus, 202 East Countryside Parkway, Yorkville
  • Thursdays: Trinity United Methodist Church, 2505 Boomer Lane, Yorkville
  • Fridays: Church of the Good Shepherd, 5 West Washington Street, Oswego
  • Saturdays: St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 53 Fernwood Road, Montgomery

PADS of Kendall County is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) group funded by donations received from grants, gifts, individuals, organizations, and businesses. Overnight guests at PADS receive a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, breakfast, and a packaged lunch to go. They also receive help with employment, social services, and housing referrals.

And as Ms. Engelhardt noted: “It’s mid-winter and the homeless are still in need of shelter, food, and care.”





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Hanks, Streep, and Spielberg give ‘The Post’ greatness and gravitas


By Tom Siebert

In a dark age when most Americans get their news from their favorite cable channel, and the president of the United States refers to the media as the “enemy of the people,” “The Post” hearkens back to a more enlightened time when newspapers were widely read, believed, and beneficial to the public good.

It is June 1971 and the New York Times is publishing excerpts of the so-called Pentagon Papers, a voluminous, decades-long discrediting of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, which by that time had cost more than 50,000 American lives. John Mitchell, attorney general under President Richard M. Nixon, secures a court injunction to stop publication of the top-secret documents, citing national security and the Espionage Act of 1917.

In steps the Washington Post to begin publishing its own articles based on the Pentagon Papers, setting in motion an epic two-week court battle that threatens to swallow up both newspapers, along with the First Amendment.

Legendary director Steven Spielberg, noting the similarities between presidential attacks on the press then and now, rushed “The Post” into production and filmed the movie in the stunning span of six months. He could not have done it without Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, arguably the best actor and actress of our times, as well as a stellar supporting cast that includes Allison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Pat Healy, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jessie Piemons, Matthew Rhys, John Rue, and Zach Woods.

The male-dominated cast, reflecting the man’s business world of the 1970s, is led by Hanks, who plays fabled Post executive editor Ben Bradlee with flair and feistiness. But it is Streep’s tour de force performance as Post publisher Katharine Graham that carries the film, chronicling her remarkable career arc from self-doubting widow to feminist pioneer to free press champion.

Written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, “The Post” also addresses the cozy relationships that many news people once had with the public officials whom they covered. Bradlee, for instance, had been good friends with President John F. Kennedy, whose administration is among four that are damned in the Pentagon Papers for misleading the nation about Vietnam.

And this multi-dimensional movie also shows how Graham’s friendship with Robert McNamara is painfully strained by her newspaper’s pending publication of the papers, which quote the former defense secretary as concluding as early as 1965 that the war was unwinnable.

Director Spielberg proves once again that he is a master story teller––from the jarring opening scene of U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam, to the John le Carré-like skullduggery depicting how government analyst turned peace activist Daniel Ellsberg stole copies of the Pentagon Papers from a California think tank, to the tense conversations between Graham and the Post’s investors, who fear that the publishing controversy will cause the newspaper to go under just as it is going public.

And as he did with his previous period pieces such as “Bridge of Spies,” “Lincoln,” and “Schindler’s List,” Spielberg demonstrates that he is a virtuoso of verisimilitude. “The Post” is accurately replete with 1970s hair styles, sideburns, wide ties, bell bottoms, and even a mass peace rally held outside of the United States Supreme Court Building. (But the director did display his artistic license by accompanying the opening 1966 war scene with Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River,” a song that was not recorded until 1969.)

The fast-paced film is scored by mega-Oscar winner John Williams, who deftly blends suspenseful electronic sounds with dramatic orchestral flourishes. But the real soundtrack of “The Post” is composed of clicking typewriters, ringing phones, and rumbling presses.

Spoiler alert: “The Post” ends well. The Supreme Court rules 6-3 in favor of the New York Times, Washington Post, and the 15 other newspapers that had begun publishing the Pentagon Papers. Graham and Bradlee do not go to prison. And two years later, the Post goes on to break the Watergate Scandal, which made it a national paper of record.

But what about today––when newspapers are struggling to survive in the digital age and Americans have retreated to their cable news niches, with millions on each side claiming to have cornered the market on the truth and dismissing the others’ media sources as “fake news”?

This sharp national divide will be evidenced writ large during the upcoming O.J. moment when half the country will believe the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller, while the other half will not. What then?

Most newspapers still provide responsible objective journalism but their readers are dwindling by the day. And even a great newspaper movie such as “The Post” has a limited audience. At my suburban Chicago multiplex, a sparse crowd showed up on the opening night of this important film. Meanwhile, for nearly a month, two screens in the theater complex have been drawing packed houses for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Perhaps the slogan for our time should be: “Fiction trumps truth.”

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‘Cop and Convict’ share message of hope over dope to Chicago suburb

By Tom Siebert
Community Contributor

“My name is Tim, and I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic and heroin addict.”

With those sobering words, Tim Ryan introduced himself not to a 12-step meeting Wednesday night but to an audience of more than 200 people gathered at the Naperville Municipal Center, west of Chicago.

“This is a great community but I’m sick and tired of burying people,” Ryan said, explaining that he has attended more than 113 funerals for those who have died from drugs during the past three and a half years.

But the founder of the A Man In Recovery Foundation said that he has also steered more than 3,000 addicts into treatment during that period, some into Transformations, a south Florida rehabilitation center for which he works as national outreach director.

Ryan, who was sent to prison twice for drug- and alcohol-connected offenses, spoke at a community forum entitled “The Unforgettable Drug Program: The Cop and the Convict,” cosponsored by the local nonprofit group KidsMatter and the Naperville Police Department.

The “cop” in the forum’s title is Naperville police detective Rich Wistocki, who was contacted by Ryan shortly after he was released from prison in late 2013. The recovering addict was seeking the assistance of the law enforcement officer in his crusade against drug addiction.

Wistocki, a 27-year police veteran, was skeptical of Ryan’s motives. But after conducting his own investigation, he was convinced that the ex-convict had truly turned his life around. So the two teamed up to begin presenting their “cop and convict” seminar to communities throughout Illinois.

At the Naperville forum, Ryan captured the attention of the audience with his riveting story of alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and near death.

He grew up in Crystal Lake, spent much of his teens and twenties under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, but did not get hooked on heroin until he was 32. Still, he was a functioning addict, able to make big bucks as a “headhunter” for a tech-industry executive recruiting firm.

However, much of his lucrative salary went to support his $500-per-day heroin habit, rather than his wife and four children. He flirted with death every day. “I overdosed eight times and was pronounced clinically dead three times,” Ryan recounted.

In December 2010, Ryan had just shot heroin into his veins on Chicago’s West Side when he passed out in his mini-van, crashing into two vehicles. Paramedics administered two doses of the life-saving medication naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin.

Ryan was charged with aggravated DUI, bailed out of jail, but continued to use heroin during a long, protracted court fight. It was during that time that he learned his teenage son Nick had also descended into drug addiction.

The father and son soon began using heroin together.

“I know it sounds crazy but that’s how Nick and I bonded,” Ryan told the incredulous crowd. “I was his friend when I should have been his father.”

In late 2012, Ryan was convicted and sentenced to prison. At that time there were 28 prisons in Illinois and only two offered residential drug treatment, one of them Sheridan Correctional Center.

So in his cell at the prison reception facility in Joliet, he prayed: “God, Higher Power, or whatever You are, please take away my obsession and compulsion, and I swear I will turn my will and life over to You. And please let me get to Sheridan!”

Ryan’s prayers were answered and he wound up at the treatment center, where he and other inmates became well versed in the Bible and the book Alcoholics Anonymous during his 13 months in prison. They went to meetings, participated in group therapy, and looked out for each other.

He was released in December 2014, and eight months later, his 20-year-old son Nick died of a heroin overdose. Ryan went to a 12-step meeting that night, and a month later, the grief-stricken father founded A Man In Recovery in memory of his late son.

Since then he has been getting addicts into treatment, running recovery groups, and teaming up with Wistocki to raise community awareness about drug abuse and prevention.

Ryan, a Naperville resident, has been featured in many publications such as Newsweek and USA Today. He also has appeared on several television programs, including Fox and Friends and The Steve Harvey Show. And his recovery story was the subject of an A & E documentary called “Dope Man.”

Wistocki’s segment of the forum was highlighted by tough talk to the many parents in the audience.

“There’s no such thing as privacy with children,” the detective told them. “All of you parents here tonight are responsible for your children. You are responsible for their devices.”

In an elaborate PowerPoint presentation, Wistocki showed the parents how to monitor their kids’ cellphones and computers to determine if they are purchasing and using drugs. He also suggested searching their rooms for other tell-tale signs of drug use.

“If your kids have a scale, it’s not because they are really smart in science,” the detective quipped, eliciting nervous laughter among the crowd.

But there was nothing funny about the statistics read to the audience by Naperville Deputy Police Chief Jason Arres. The police department has responded to 104 overdose calls so far this year, doubling the numbers of 2015 and 2016.

Arres said further that as of Nov. 8, there had been 29 heroin overdoses and five heroin deaths in the city this year. He added that thus far in 2017, there have been 56 prescription drug overdoses and no fatalities.

The good news is that 23 times this year drug users were saved from overdoses after receiving a dose of narcan, an antidote that was administered by either Naperville police or paramedics.

The deputy police chief also updated the community on a recently enacted department policy that allows drug addicts to turn themselves and avoid arrest, stating that 32 people have taken advantage of the treatment-alternative program.

“It’s not just about arresting people; it’s about helping them,” Arres asserted. “We are going to help them get treatment whether they can afford it or not.

“We cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem.”

Tim Ryan

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Democrat Howard Dean and Republican Newt Gingrich to keynote 2018 World Leaders Forum at Judson University

By Tom Siebert

Hoping to generate less heat and more light in the global political debate, Judson University has scheduled ex-Vermont Governor Howard Dean and former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to speak, not spar, at the Christian college’s seventh World Leaders Forum next spring.


“In a world that is becoming increasingly politically divided, Judson University is honored to host a conversation highlighting the importance of civility in political discourse,” said university President Gene Crume. “We believe in presenting our campus and our community with a balanced approach to understanding divergent ideologies by fostering respectful dialogue.”

Mr. Dean and Mr. Gingrich, both of whom were once front runners for their respective parties’ presidential nominations, are set to keynote the 2018 World Leaders Forum, entitled “A Bipartisan Conversation About Leadership in Divided Times.”

The event is slated for April 19 at Judson’s campus in northwest suburban Elgin, followed by a VIP reception and photo opportunity in Chicago. The two political leaders will be sharing a stage for the first time since 2011.

Howard Dean served as governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003, gaining a national reputation for fiscal responsibility as well as promoting equality and opportunity for the state’s residents. Governor Dean was named public official of the year by Governing magazine in 2002.

He ran for president in 2004, coming in second place for the Democratic nomination behind Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Mr. Dean then ran the Democratic National Committee from 2005-2009, helping his party take control of the House of Representatives in 2006 and the Senate in 2008. He is a frequent guest on political talk shows.

Newt Gingrich was first elected to the House from Georgia in 1978 and served until 1999. He was House minority whip from 1989-1995 and speaker from 1995-1999. Under his leadership, the House passed welfare reform, the first balanced budget in a generation, and the first tax cut in 16 years. In addition, funding was restored to strengthen defense and intelligence capabilities, an action later lauded by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

Mr. Gingrich ran a surprisingly strong campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, which was eventually won by Arizona Senator John McCain. He has published 35 books, including 15 New York Times bestsellers. He is currently a Fox News contributor and senior advisor at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm.

Previous keynoters at the World Leaders Forum were former President George W. Bush, ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.

The forum affords Judson students and the Chicagoland community an opportunity to be inspired by significant thought leaders. Proceeds fund Judson leadership scholarships, innovative entrepreneurial activities, and ongoing operations of the World Leaders Forum.

Judson University offers a Christian liberal arts and sciences education through its bachelor of arts degrees for more than 60 majors, minors, and graduate programs. Also offered are online certification and accelerated adult-degree programs. For more information, visit


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Famed illusionist tells Christian college audience that it was not magic but a miracle that cured his cancer

By Tom Siebert

World-known illusionist Jim Munroe wowed a Judson University crowd with sleight of hand Monday night but asserted that it was the hand of God that healed him from a fatal form of leukemia.

“Modern medicine was a huge part of helping me be well,” said the Christian magician, keynoting the World Leaders Forum Inspirational Series at the college in Elgin, Illinois. “But, for me, it’s more than the medicine. I am overwhelmingly convinced of who this Jesus is now.”

Mr. Munroe was a standout pitcher for the University of Texas but his prospects for a career in major league baseball were derailed by an injury, prompting him to pursue a living as an illusionist.

The world of magic, with its “trapped doors” and “smoke and mirrors,” made him skeptical about the Christian faith in which he had been brought up.

“I was a self-proclaimed agnostic, borderline atheist,” he told the audience of several hundred at Judson’s Herrick Chapel.

But just as Jim was increasingly questioning the existence of God, he was faced with his own existential crisis, a deadly diagnosis of blood cancer in 2009 when he was only 29.

Mr. Munroe had good health insurance so he was fortunate to become a patient at the prestigious University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. However, his doctor told him: “We do not have a medical cure for you in this hospital.”

The one-time top athlete was ravaged with pain as his red blood cells were literally blowing up and damaging his bones. The only treatment was radical chemotherapy that would destroy Jim’s existing red cells and replace them with bone marrow that could produce healthy blood.

His oncologist said that he needed “the perfect blood of a perfect match” that would make him “a new creation.” That kind of talk reminded Mr. Munroe of his church upbringing, specifically, “the perfect blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ” that was written about in the New Testament of the Bible.

“It was like a Christian episode of The Twilight Zone,” he told the hushed crowd.

There was only one problem. He desperately needed a bone marrow donor. A check of an international donor database turned up just one person out of 9 million whose bone marrow matched his.

That person was Jennell Jenney, then 20, of Milwaukee.

The audience erupted into cheers and applause as Ms. Jenney, now 29, walked onto the stage, displaying a tattoo of a jigsaw puzzle on her inner right arm––the exact spot where a needle was injected to draw her bone marrow so that Jim could live.

“I was the missing piece in his life,” she explained, encouraging everyone there to consider enrolling in the Be The Match National Marrow Donor Program.

Mr. Munroe, who is now 38, added: “I stand here today one hundred percent completely cancer free because of that perfect blood of a perfect match.”

The World Leaders Forum offers Judson students and the Chicagoland community an opportunity to be inspired by significant thought leaders. In previous years, the Christian university has hosted former President George W. Bush, ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Mexican President Felipé Calderon, ex-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Queen Noor of Jordan, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton, and Life Without Limbs founder, author, and motivational speaker Nick Vujicic.

All proceeds from the event fund Judson leadership scholarships and innovative entrepreneurial activities as well as supporting the ongoing operational purposes of the World Leaders Forum.

In addition to financial aid, Judson leadership scholars have access to unique opportunities for cultivating their skills through the forum and via monthly meetings with university president Gene Crume.

Student scholars receive leadership training and financial aid based on their academic merit and financial need. To be eligible, a student must demonstrate entrepreneurship, creativity, leadership, faith, and sense of mission.

“It’s an honor to collaborate with an organization that is important to this community and our keynote speaker,” Mr. Crume said of the Monday night event. “We hope Be The Match’s presence on campus will help students and visitors learn more about the organization and ways they can help.”

Jim Munroe is author of the The Charlatan: The Skeptical, Mysterious, Supernatural True Story of a Christian Magician. He has taken his show, called the MAZE, throughout the world, recruiting more than 14,000 donors to the national registry. He lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with his wife and two children.

Prior to telling his testimony, Mr. Munroe warmed up the crowd by performing clever tricks of his trade. One of those included divining the last name of Abby Jungels, a Judson senior majoring in marketing and business management.

He then beckoned Ms. Jungels up to the stage, where he had her randomly pick out ten playing cards from a cut deck. When he turned over the cards that she had selected, they just happened to match her cellphone number.

Asked later how the magician was able to pull off such a feat, she responded: “He’s talented. It’s a God-given talent.”

World Leaders Forum.jpg

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Homeless group facing critical shortage of volunteers

By Tom Siebert
Assistant Director for Community Relations
Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, Illinois

Unless Kendall County PADS can recruit about 100 more volunteers in less than a month, the nonprofit group will be unable to start its eighth season of providing nutritious meals and overnight housing to the area’s homeless community.

“We depend entirely on volunteers to provide a shelter program for men, women, and children experiencing homelessness,” said Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS. “Without a full staff of volunteers every night of the week, that site would not be able to open.”

Anyone interested in learning how PADS has been helping their homeless neighbors is invited to attend a new volunteer training session from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, at the Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, 409 Center Parkway, on the northwest corner of Illinois Routes 34 and 47.

The two-hour training session will include an overview of PADS––how it operates each night and the integral role of volunteers. Attendees will learn general operational procedures, how to address health issues, and the importance of kindness to guests.

New recruits will also receive a volunteer manual and be assigned to an experienced shelter coordinator who will serve as a mentor to them. The hope is that each person attending will be informed and would feel comfortable with their role in Kendall County PADS, should they be inspired to serve. The session is free, refreshments will be served, and there is no commitment obligation.

During the colder months of the year, nearly 600 volunteers provide safe shelter, nourishing meals, and caring hospitality to PADS guests. Most volunteers serve one or two times each month for four and a half hours. Some of the site coordinators serve every week.

One of those is Sandy Lindblom, head site coordinator at Yorkville Congregational, who has volunteered at PADS for the past seven shelter seasons.

“What I find most rewarding is how much it means to those who have received our hospitality, and how much it means to them when they are able to find jobs and housing,” Ms. Lindblom said. She added that it is particularly heartening when guests “come back as volunteers.”

Ms. Engelhardt said serving at a PADS location is “like being part of a track rally team. Shift one with four volunteers needs to pass the baton to shift two with four volunteers and then pass the baton to shift three volunteers. If any one shift is missing volunteers, that night is incomplete and cannot host.”

Speakers at the training session will also discuss the services provided by food teams, laundry exchange drivers, shift volunteers, and site coordinators. There will also be a representative from the Guest Assistance Program offered by social work interns from Aurora University. The GAP helps guests with employment, permanent housing, and personal issues.

RaeAnn VanGundy, operations manager for the Kendall County Health Department, will talk about how that agency assists PADS guests by assigning a counselor to a shelter site once per week.

“Homeless people are under a lot of stress. We try to lift their burdens in any way that we can,” Ms. VanGundy said. “If we can provide a link or a referral, that can be life changing.”

Safety issues will be addressed by representatives from local police departments and the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office.

Each of the seven Kendall County PADS shelters are scheduled to be open one overnight per week from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. starting on October 15 and ending on April 14, 2018. The nights and sites are as follows:

· Sundays: Cross Lutheran Church, 8609 Route 47, Yorkville

· Mondays: Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, 409 Center Parkway, Yorkville

· Tuesdays: Harvest New Beginnings church, 5315 Douglas Road, Oswego

· Wednesdays: Parkview Christian Academy, upper campus, 202 East Countryside Parkway, Yorkville

· Thursdays: Trinity United Methodist Church, 2505 Boomer Lane, Yorkville

· Fridays: Church of the Good Shepherd, 5 West Washington Street, Oswego

· Saturdays: St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 53 Fernwood Road, Montgomery

Overnight guests at PADS receive a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, breakfast, and a packaged lunch to go. They also receive help with employment, social services, and housing referrals.

PADS of Kendall County is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) group funded by donations received from grants, gifts, individuals, organizations, and businesses. Those who wish to donate or volunteer may call (630) 553-5073 or visit the website at

“We are very grateful for the generous monetary donations that help to support the program needs,” stated Ms. Engelhardt. “But without volunteers, the shelter program cannot operate, cannot exist.”

She describes PADS volunteers as “amazing” and said that for many, service is its own reward. “Giving another human being the most basic things––a warm place to sleep and meals––is a privilege and an opportunity to learn more about others and about yourself.

“Volunteers and guests often eat together and share in conversation. Beginning to understand the life of a person experiencing homelessness can be both eye opening and personally transformative.”



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