Residents of Chicago suburbs are finding creative ways to help their homeless neighbors

By Tom Siebert
Assistant director for community relations
PADS of Kendall County IL

Site coordinators for Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, in west suburban Chicago, recently held their mid-season meeting at the Yorkville Public Library.

The main topic of discussion was mental illness, recognizing its signs and symptoms, and suggesting appropriate responses for volunteers, according to Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS.

“PADS is operating very well overall, thanks to the strong leadership skills of the site coordinators,” she said. “This year we have been very aware of the mental health conditions of our guests.”

Speakers at the meeting were counselor Rose Romero and Jason Andrade, director of mental health at the Kendall County Health Department. PADS board members were also in attendance.

“In an organization this big, with more than 520 volunteers, covering more than 25 percent of the hours in a year, we can expect to experience a few hiccups or bumps,” Ms. Engelhardt stated. “I’m always amazed and appreciate how well PADS functions.”

Through April 16, Kendall County PADS is providing homeless shelters from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at these sites on the following days: 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, Boulder Hill.

Overnight guests at PADS receive a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, breakfast, and a packaged lunch to go. Since this PADS season began last October, the nonprofit organization has provided more than 500 overnight stays. Those who wish to volunteer or donate may do so online at or by calling (331) 207-8903.

Some PADS guests own cars and are thus able to drive themselves to the shelter sites. But for those without transportation, Yorkville Express taxi service has been picking up and dropping off PADS guests at eight locations throughout wide-open Kendall County.

Many other county residents have found creative ways to help the homeless. 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.

In addition, Cub Scout Pack 348 of Oswego will be making and bringing cookies to the PADS site at St. Luke’s church this Saturday night. And 15-year-old Sydney Gonzales of St. Patrick Parish in Yorkville is heading up a drive for donations of “care kits” for PADS guests.

“As a group of caring and compassionate people, we continue to work as a team for our mission to provide shelter, food, and warm hospitality for our homeless guests,” executive director Engelhardt said. “I am honored to be among the dedicated, loving leaders and volunteers.”PADS


About Tom Siebert

Tom Siebert received a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and worked as a staff writer for newspapers in California, Florida, and Illinois. He reported general news, interviewed entertainment figures, and covered elected office holders––including four presidents and a pope. More significantly, Tom profiled human suffering in the form of a homeless man dying of AIDS, a college cheerleader battling Hodgkin's disease, and a senior couple living the long goodbye of Alzheimer's. He also worked as a copyeditor and proofreader for Tyndale House, a Christian publisher based in the Chicago suburbs. Tom is presently self-employed as an editor of Christian books. In addition, he serves as community relations director for Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, Illinois. And Tom is on the leadership team for the Celebrate Recovery ministry at his church, Harvest New Beginnings, in Oswego, a suburb west of Chicago. He may be contacted at or (816) 344-7815.
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