The Broken Baton

By Tom Siebert

When you were just a guileless child, was a broken baton passed to you? The broken baton of alcoholism, addiction, or abuse? Jesus Christ can reverse your curse. “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our inequities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

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No room at the inn: Kendall County PADS needs more volunteers to keep homeless shelter sites open

By Tom Siebert
Assistant director for community relations
Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, IL

A poignant part of the Christmas story is a couple needing a safe place to stay for the night.

On Wednesday night, just four days before Christmas, men and women will be seeking shelter at the United Methodist Church of Plano. However, four more volunteers are needed to keep the temporary housing shelter open, according to Diane Morris, a site coordinator for Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, west of Chicago.

“I stood up in church yesterday and all but begged,” Ms. Morris said Monday. “Actually, I did beg for help.”

In October, Kendall County PADS began its seventh season of helping the homeless at seven churches that hope to continue opening their doors on designated nights of the week through April 16, 2017.

But this season the nonprofit organization has been consistently short of volunteers on four of those nights, according to Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS.

“I am trusting that we will have more volunteers,” Ms. Engelhardt said. “They are slowly filling in.”

Each season PADS needs nearly 600 volunteers, at least 18 years’ old, to provide overnight shelter, nourishing meals, and caring hospitality to homeless guests. Some volunteers serve two or more times each month, in 4½-hour shifts. And some of the site coordinators serve every week.

At United Methodist Church of Plano, there is a need for male volunteers on the second and third Wednesdays of the month, a male on the third shift on the first and second Wednesdays, and a female on the third shift on third Wednesdays. Those wishing to volunteer may call Ms. Morris at (630) 552-3985 or email her at dkaymorris@aol.com.

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

PADS nights and sites throughout the shelter season are as follows: 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.

PADS of Kendall County 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 (331) 207-8903 or visit the website at http://www.kendallcountypads.org.

Kendall is a relatively small county of 120,000––half of whom are adults––meaning that PADS must tap into two percent of that population to staff the seven shelter sites, Ms. Engelhardt stated.

“I really believe that PADS is as much about the volunteers as it is the homeless guests,” she said. “A volunteer brings people together in the large circle of life. I have learned that we are more alike than different.”

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Homeless women shatter myths and share hopes

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.

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Attacks on Beatles draw deadly difference between US and UK

By Tom Siebert

There is a life-and-death difference between our gun-crazed country and countries that strictly regulate access to firearms. For instance, on Dec. 8, 1980, former Beatle John Lennon was shot six times in his back by a deranged fan outside his apartment building in New York City. On Dec. 31, 1999, John’s ex-bandmate George Harrison was stabbed in the chest by an insane intruder in his Oxfordshire, England, mansion. George survived his attack. John did not.
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Homeless organization faces critical shortage of volunteers to staff shelters

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

Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County recently began its seventh season of offering food and temporary housing to the area’s homeless.   But the not-for-profit organization is short nearly 20 percent of the volunteers needed to operate the six-month-long program in the western suburbs of Chicago.

“To be able to open its doors each night to the homeless in the community, Kendall County PADS needs approximately 600 volunteers,” said executive director Anne Engelhardt. “Currently, there is a critical need for 90 new volunteers.”

The organization will host two informational sessions for the public to learn more about PADS––what it is, where and when the shelter sites are open, and what it does for the homeless men, women, and children who come for aid.    

The first session will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15, at the Plano Public Library, 15 West North Street. The second session is from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, at the Yorkville Public Library, 902 Game Farm Road. 

A panel of experienced volunteers will present a brief overview of PADS and then entertain audience questions.  This will not be a training meeting; rather, attendees can expect to learn about who comes to the homeless shelter sites and what services they receive. Also, attendees will learn how PADS goes beyond its basic mission of shelter and food by providing links to many social services for its guests.  

All citizens are invited, including anyone who simply wants to learn more about how PADS cares for the homeless.  “The experience of community and connection between volunteers and the guests they serve are immeasurable,” Anne added. 

No pre-registration is required and no commitments are expected.  If community members cannot attend either of these two sessions, they can learn more about PADS on its website, http://www.kendallcountypads.org, or they can call Ms. Engelhardt at 630-553-5073.

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Harvest New Beginnings Church in Oswego set to host Celebrate Recovery Chicago One-Day Seminar

By Tom Siebert

Celebrate Recovery, a worldwide Christian ministry in more than 30,000 churches, will hold its Chicago One-Day Seminar from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Harvest New Beginnings Church, 5315 Douglas Road in Oswego.

Celebrate Recovery helps people with hurts, habits, and hang-ups–pretty much everyone during some seasons of their lives. “CR,” as its members fondly call it, is based on the 12-step concept with biblical comparisons. The primary purpose of the one-day seminar is to equip other churches to start Celebrate Recovery at their church, according to Lynn Schilling, ministry leader for Celebrate Recovery at Harvest New Beginnings.

“We are your ‘church neighbor’ and want to personally invite you to this event in Oswego,” Ms. Schilling said.  “There hasn’t been a CR conference in this area for four years and it may be another four years before there is one here again. We have had Celebrate Recovery at Harvest for 14 years and we would love to see more churches in our area offer it because many people would like to go to more than one meeting a week.”

There will be two training tracks at the seminar. “The Journey Begins” teaches church leaders how to start Celebrate Recovery at their church and provides a 90-day kick-off plan to launch the ministry. The second track, “The Journey Continues,” provides advanced training for Celebrate Recovery ministries already up and running.

Celebrate Recovery was started in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The co-founder is Saddleback pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, which has sold more than 60 million copies. CR’s other founder, John Baker, will be teaching the second part of the Chicago-area seminar at Harvest New Beginnings. Participation in Celebrate Recovery helps people overcome addiction, anger, codependency, depression, overeating, loss of a loved one, pornography, and other issues.

Those wishing to sign up for the Celebrate Recovery Chicago One-Day Seminar may do so at celebraterecovery.com. Walk-in registrations are available on the day of the event from 7:30-8:30 a.m. However, only pre-registered guests are guaranteed seats. A video about CR one-day seminars may be viewed at https://vimeo.com/143131022. For more information on the event or the ministry of Celebrate Recovery, please contact Lynn Schilling at (630) 373-3366 or harvestrecovery@yahoo.com.

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PADS of Kendall County seeking volunteers as season of housing homeless guests nears

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

Ron Parrish is a retired executive from two food-seasoning companies. Today, Ron’s life is seasoned with “love, peace, and happiness” because he volunteers for Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, west of Chicago.

“When God has been good to you, you want to give back by helping people in need,” said Ron, a Yorkville resident who has served as a site coordinator at Harvest New Beginnings in Oswego since 2010, the first year that Kendall County PADS began feeding and providing temporary housing to the area’s homeless.

PADS - Food Team - serves awesome meal!

PADS volunteers serve a hot, tasty meal

Another longtime PADS volunteer at Harvest New Beginnings is Lynn Schilling, ministry leader for Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-step program with chapters in more than 30,000 churches worldwide.

“In Celebrate Recovery, we deal with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. So why wouldn’t we be there for our brothers and sisters?” said Lynn, whose ministry hosts an outreach night once per month for PADS guests during the shelter season.

She explained: “Part of our CR ministry is giving back. And serving together is a great way to serve and work through our struggles together.”

PADS is looking for volunteers like Ron and Lynn––men and women, at least 18 years’ old––to join at any time during the shelter season, which runs from October 16, 2016, through April 16, 2017. Most PADS volunteers serve just once per month for about four to five hours.

Nearly 600 volunteers each season give their time to provide safe, overnight shelter, nourishing meals, and caring hospitality to their homeless guests. Some volunteers serve two or more times each month. And some of the site coordinators serve every week.

Kendall County PADS will hold a volunteer training session on Monday, October 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, located at 409 Center Parkwayon the northwest corner of Illinois Route 34 and Route 47. Advance registration is not required.

The two-hour training session will present an overview of PADS––how it operates each night and the role of volunteers. Attendees will learn the responsibilities of the various volunteer positions, the importance of hospitality for guests, health and safety issues, dos and don’ts for volunteers, and general operational procedures.

New volunteers will also receive a PADS volunteer manual and will be assigned to an experienced volunteer who serves as a mentor to them. The hope is that each person attending will be informed and feel comfortable with their role in Kendall County PADS, should they be inspired to serve. The program is free and there is no obligation to sign up as a volunteer.

As the shelter season nears in mid-October, a new volunteer will be notified by a site leader to confirm the week and time slot he or she will be serving at PADS. After the volunteer receives confirmation for day and time, he or she will be encouraged to view a training session through a link on the Kendall County PADS website.

The PADS board of directors thanks those who are returning to help as well as new volunteers. There will also be review sessions held for returning site coordinators and other volunteers at each of the seven area churches that host shelter sites.

PADS nights and sites throughout the shelter season are as follows: 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. They also receive help with employment, social services, and housing referrals.

PADS of Kendall County 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 may call (331) 207-8903 or visit the website at www.kendallcountypads.org

During the 2015–16 Kendall County PADS season, guests stayed overnight a total of 1,162 times and received 3,486 meals. Several guests stayed for a night or two, some for a week or more, and others stayed over for several months––or even the entire season. Men stayed 616 nights; women stayed 545 nights. The 2015–16 season, for the first time, had no children using the shelters. In addition, the evening meal was served 114 times to dinner guests who did not spend the night. Since PADS began in the area in 2010, the organization has sheltered 346 individuals (men, women, and children), translating into 6,957 overnight stays and 20,972 meals.

Hospitality to the guests is a priority at PADS. In addition to providing food and shelter, the most important provision is a safe, caring, and respectful environment for PADS guests. The spirit of hospitality not only calls for physical nourishment and protection from the outside elements, but also includes the concept of mutual equality between guests and hosts. It is PADS’ desire to provide an atmosphere that removes the stigma of “charity,” which can be damaging to human dignity.

Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS, noted that volunteering for the organization is a sacrifice. “You give up a favorite television show, surrender some time with your children or spouse, and you lose a few hours of sleep each month.”

Anne expressed gratitude that PADS volunteers “give selflessly” to their shift, food tasks, and laundry exchange, adding that site coordinators provide even more by ensuring that the shelters are well stocked, volunteers are lined up each week, and problems are solved.

“At every site, I feel the positive energy pouring out in the form of smiles, kind words, focused attention, listening and talking with our homeless guests,” she said. “We rejoice when we learn that one of our guests has finally been hired, made her appointment with her counselor, or has secured a permanent place to live.”

Ron Parrish hopes that the rewards of being a PADS volunteer will be even longer lasting. “The most important thing is for the Lord to someday say to me: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” 

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