By Tom Siebert
Assistant director for community relations
Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, IL
The face of homelessness is often female.
Three women were recent dinner and overnight guests at Harvest New Beginnings church in Oswego. Harvest is one of seven area churches that open their doors and hearts to the homeless, in partnership with Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, in Chicago’s western suburbs.
“They’ve been very nice here,” said Rebecca, who asked that her age not be disclosed. “It’s a blessing to have a safe place to spend the night.”
The well-groomed women did not exactly fit the image that many people have of those without permanent housing. All had attended college, had held professional jobs, and had done volunteer work–including, coincidentally, for PADS.
“There is often a stereotype that we’re scary to be around. Well, none of these people are scary to be around,” Rebecca said, smiling and circling her finger around a dinner table, at which also sat two male PADS guests.
One woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said people whom she encountered were often surprised to learn that she did not presently have a place to live. “I’ve had the response that ‘you don’t look like one of those women with a shopping cart.'”
The former healthcare specialist is willing to work as a waitress in order to pay the rent for the subsidized apartment for which she has applied.
“I wouldn’t even ask for a salary,” she said. “Just let me work and get my tips.”
All three women had been homeless for a short time, had solid leads on finding permanent housing and–most importantly in sprawling Kendall County–owned automobiles. Thus, they have been been able to drive themselves each night to one of the seven churches that houses PADS sites.
But transportation to and from the churches has been a challenge this fall for PADS guests without vehicles. Barb Johnson, PADS assistant director for guest services, said she has been in contact with the public Kendall Area Transit (KAT) as well as the private Kendall County KAB, and both have offered to assist with transportation.
“We are hoping that Kendall KAB will be able to pick up our guests in the evening and deliver them to PADS sites, and that KAT will be able to pick them up in the morning and deliver them to a designated drop-off point,” she said. “We are also still working with Oswego Senior Services and Cross Lutheran Church to provide transportation on Sunday. Our future plans include trying to have a vehicle donated.”
Information about donations or volunteering at a local shelter may be obtained online at www.kendallcountypads.org or by calling 331-207-8903.
The Sunday night PADS shelter is at Cross Lutheran Church, 8609 Route 47, Yorkville; Mondays are at 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. The sites are open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. through April 16, 2016.
Vicky, 68, is hopeful that she will be able to return to her condominium long before that date. She said she was forced to abandon the condo on account of a combination of financial issues and problems with her neighbors. “I have a lot of things at home to get straight,” said the former floral arranger and store manager.
Dinner was fresh salad, ham sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and pumpkin pie. One woman was allergic to certain foods, so Harvest New Beginnings prepared her a special meal of glucose-free noodles and sliced almonds.
After dinner, Vicky led the group in prayer, thanking God for the provisions of the evening and humbly asking that all would soon be blessed with a permanent place to live.