By Tom Siebert
Assistant Director for Community Relations
Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, Illinois
Volunteers from Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County will be blanketing the community over the next two months, sharing how the nonprofit group is helping their homeless neighbors and how they can help, too.
The volunteers will be hosting informal get-togethers at coffee shops, colleges, and libraries as PADS prepares for its eighth season of providing nourishing meals, kind hospitality, and overnight housing at seven shelter sites, each open one day of the week, from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. from October 15 through April 14, 2018.
Those who attend the community outreach gatherings will hear how PADS assists its homeless guests with not only basic needs but also employment, healthcare, social services, and the ultimate goal of securing permanent housing. There will also be time for questions and answers but no one will be under any obligation, according to Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS.
She explained, “We want people to not feel like they are signing up for anything, just a time to come and find out about PADS from the people in our community who make it work.”
One of those is Caren Farrell, who has served for the past six shelter seasons at Cross Lutheran Church in Yorkville. “I enjoy the people,” Ms. Farrell said. “So many of them are cheerful. It’s always a positive experience. What is most inspirational to me about the guests is their sense of community and how they look out for each other.”
Gregg Wehrs was a PADS volunteer for three years at United Methodist Church of Plano. “I love doing it,” he said. “You get to make friends.” He feels a special kinship with the guests, having once become homeless himself. “I know where they are coming from. You think you have it all and then you don’t.”
The first community outreach will take place on Saturday, Aug. 26. A PADS booth will be set up at a volunteer fair co-hosted by Aurora University and the city of Aurora. The fair will be held from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Prisco Community Center, 150 W. Illinois Avenue.
PADS will also be represented at two upcoming student involvement fairs at Waubonsee Community College. The first will be a two-day event held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, and Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the main campus, Waubonsee Drive and Illinois Route 47 in Sugar Grove. The second fair takes place from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Aurora campus, 309 N. River Street.
A PADS gathering will also be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, in the lower-level meeting room of the Plano Community Library District, 15 W. North Street. And on Tuesday, Sept. 12, a volunteer will be on hand at Starbucks, 1246 N. Bridge Street in Yorkville, from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the back meeting room.
The Montgomery Branch of the Oswego Public Library District, 1111 Reading Drive, hosts a PADS get-together from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the meeting room on Tuesday, September 12. The Oswego Public Library District, 32 Jefferson Street, has scheduled a similar event from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in their meeting room on Wednesday, September 13.
On Thursday, September 14, the Village Grind coffee house, 19 S. Main Street in Oswego, opens its doors to PADS and interested parties from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. And on Saturday, Sept. 16, Panera Bread, 1206 N. Bridge Street in Yorkville, will reserve a PADS table in their back meeting room from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m.
More than 600 volunteers are needed to serve on food teams and as laundry drivers, site coordinators, and four-hour shift workers once per week at six area churches and a new shelter site to be named later. Most of those will be returning volunteers but PADS always needs new recruits, who will be invited to a training session from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, at Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, 409 Center Parkway.
All volunteers will also be invited to a presentation entitled “What I Don’t Know and Need to Know about Homeless People.” The workshop will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10, at a location to be announced soon.
PADS also wants its elected officials to know what they are up to. So a PADS volunteer will take part in the public comments session at the Yorkville Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8, and again on Tuesday, August 22. The board meets at 7 p.m. at 800 Game Farm Road.
A speaker is also planned for the Plano City Council meetings on Monday, Aug. 14, and Monday, Aug. 28. The council meets at 6 p.m. at 17 E. Main Street. And another PADS volunteer will be at the Oswego Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15. The board meets at 7 p.m. at 100 Parkers Mill Place.
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.