By Tom Siebert
Assistant Director for Community Relations
Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, Illinois
Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville, a rustic suburb west of Chicago, will be joining six area churches this fall in providing nutritious meals and overnight housing to the homeless as Kendall County PADS starts its eighth shelter season.
“We’re excited,” said Parkview Superintendent Deborah Benson, explaining that she has been receiving favorable feedback from parents about the school’s new mission. “The responses have ranged from very positive to ‘that’s awesome.’”
The need for a new Wednesday night shelter arose earlier this year when the United Methodist Church of Plano announced that it was unable to continue in the PADS program after six years of service. At the same time, Parkview was in the process of purchasing the building that formerly housed the Club 47 fitness facility at 202 East Countryside Parkway to accommodate its expanding enrollment, which has grown to about 350 students.
“God had blessed us with this facility so how could we not share it with the community?” Ms. Benson asked. “We want to teach Christ to our students.”
The private academy went through “a very careful process” before bringing the PADS proposal to its board of directors for consideration, she said. That included contacting representatives of the churches that have been hosting homeless shelters in partnership with Kendall County PADS since 2010. “It was all positive,” she said.
The school’s board voted unanimously to approve the measure earlier this month, to the delight and relief of the nonprofit group, which had been reaching out to the community for a replacement shelter site.
Superintendent Benson said PADS guests will be able to walk directly into the school’s gymnasium, which houses kitchen facilities and a dining area as well as separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters for women and men.
Being able to take a mid-week shower will be an added blessing to the overnight guests of Parkview. The two churches that open shelters on the weekends have shower facilities but the ones that operate during the other four days of the week do not.
The Parkview shelter site will be completely separate from the academy’s classrooms, which are occupied during the day with middle and high school students. “We wanted to make sure that it is safe for all parties,” Ms. Benson added.
The Christian academy, founded in 1997, continues to operate its prekindergarten-through-early elementary school at 201 West Center Street. The rustic building once housed the old Yorkville School and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Each of the seven Kendall County PADS shelters will 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
Several volunteers from United Methodist plan to continue their service to the homeless at Parkview. One of those is Diane Morris, who was the PADS head site coordinator at the Plano church for four years.
“I want to thank all the volunteers who supported and worked with me to provide shelter and hot meals for the homeless,” Ms. Morris stated. “I am also thrilled to hear the new site for Wednesdays will be at Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville. They will be a wonderful shelter to provide a safe, warm place for the homeless to lay their heads on Wednesday evenings. I look forward to helping out in a new capacity with the PADS program.”
Dick Velders, who served at United Methodist for six shelter seasons, will also be volunteering at the new site at Parkview.
“I was thrilled when Parkview Christian graciously offered their new site at the former Club 47 fitness center, where I had been a member for 18 years,” said Mr. Velders. “I was permitted to view the site after the academy had begun major remodeling and reviewed the facilities, which I strongly believe will work well for the PADS guests. Now we will vigorously reach out to volunteers to help at PADS and especially the new site.”
Overnight PADS guests receive a hot meal, safe place to sleep, breakfast, and a packaged lunch to go. Kendall County PADS is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) group funded by donations from gifts, grants, organizations, businesses, and private citizens. Those who wish to donate or volunteer may call 630-553-5073 or visit the website at kendallcountypads.org.
The homeless community is also invited to avail themselves of the PADS Guest Assistance Program. The GAP is filled by social work students from Aurora University who help guests with employment, healthcare, personal issues, and permanent housing.
Brittani Dahlman interned at Kendall County PADS during the last shelter season and is looking forward to volunteering during this school year while she studies for her master’s degree in social work at Aurora University.
“I am very excited to be a part of the team working at our new site and am grateful to be working alongside many of our dedicated volunteers in making Parkview our new safe haven for guests on Wednesday nights,” Ms. Dahlman said. “I am very thankful for the wonderful people who have offered this space for the K.C. PADS program, as well as their generosity in supporting our PADS mission and working with us to provide our services to those in need.
“Parkview is truly a blessing.”