‘Hidden Figures’ is a must-see movie that reveals the heroic women who helped overcome race and space

By Tom Siebert

Mary Jackson, Katherine G. Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan were three African American women who rose above racism and sexism to help launch white male astronauts into space in the segregated 1960s and bring them safely back to Earth. In the astonishingly great movie Hidden Figures, this trio of NASA mathematicians is played with humanity and humor by Janelle Monåe, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer, all of whom deserve Oscars. I shed tears of anguish at the cruel indignities that these women endured but quietly wept with joy as they overcame with brains and bravery. I give Hidden Figures four E’s for edification, education, entertainment, and excellence.

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Horror meets heroism in riveting film ‘Patriots Day’

By Tom Siebert

“Patriots Day” is a painful film to watch. And you can’t get through it with the assuring mantra “it’s only a movie.” Because it is not. It happened. This riveting docudrama recreates the horrific Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013 and the subsequent manhunt for the two terrorists who murdered four people, maimed many more, and injured hundreds. I had to remind myself that I was not watching a trailer for another mindless action film during the harrowing scene in which the terrorists blow up pursing police cruisers with pipe bombs that were intended for perhaps a far deadlier attack on New York City. “Patriots Day” humanizes and memorializes both the victims and heroes of a cataclysmic American tragedy. We should do all we can to prevent a sequel to this must-see movie.

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Posted in Boston Marathon bombings, Movie Review, Patriots Day, Terrorism, Tom Siebert | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Women’s philanthropic group gives lift to local homeless

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

The homeless have many hardships. In sprawling Kendall County, west of Chicago, there is no public transportation. So the toughest challenge can be just getting to the temporary housing shelters that are provided during the colder months by area churches.

However, transportation will continue to be available to overnight guests of Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, thanks to a $2,200 donation from the local chapter of a worldwide philanthropic organization.

“Congratulations to Kendall County PADS, who was the chosen charity this quarter!” said Amber Dillbeck, president of 100+ Women Who Care of Greater Will County, which meets four times per year to hear five-minute presentations from three local charities.

“After presentations, a private vote is taken and the charity receiving the most votes is given a donation of one hundred dollars on the spot from each member,” explained Ms. Dillbeck, who heads one of the more than 400 global chapters of 100+ Women Who Care.

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Karen Allred, a member of 100+ Women Who Care of Greater Will County, and Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS, display blowup of check representing the donation that the philanthropic group recently gave to the homeless organization.

Last October, Kendall County PADS began its seventh season of providing meals and overnight housing to the homeless at seven churches on different nights of the week.

The shelters are open at 7 p.m. through April 15 on 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, Montgomery.

The overall travel distance from site to site is 57 miles. Moreover, the distance between churches ranges from 5 to 12 miles, making it difficult for anyone to walk the routes, especially in winter weather, and carrying a backpack or duffel bag. About half of PADS guests do not own vehicles, and in past years, some have traversed the treacherous routes on bicycles.

But with the new funding from 100+ Women Who Care, PADS will be able to continue its contract with Yorkville Express, a local taxi service that has been transporting the guests to and from the shelters. Yorkville Express provides rides nine times per week, some days in the mornings. Four nights per week, the taxi brings guests directly to the sites.

“The driver, Rob, really believes in the program,” said Barb Johnson, assistant director for transportation at Kendall County PADS.

Executive Director Anne Engelhardt expressed her great gratitude to the local chapter of 100+ Women Who Care. “This organization truly demonstrates their name through their support for people in need. Their generous financial donation to PADS will go a long way to providing needed transportation to and from the shelter sites for homeless people without vehicles.”

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

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

Ms. Engelhardt added: “PADS is very fortunate to be supported by the greater community through financial contributions and by the gift of time from hundreds of volunteers who are the hands and hearts of the shelter program. Each intentional act of kindness connects the giver and the receiver.”

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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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Posted in Abuse, Alcoholism, Celebrate Recovery, Christianity, Drug Addiction, Jesus Christ, The Bible, The Broken Baton, The Church, Tom Siebert | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Posted in Christianity, Homeless, Jesus Christ, Kendall County, PADS, The Church, Tom Siebert | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Posted in Gun control, Gun violence, Guns, John Lennon, The Beatles, Tom Siebert | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment