It takes a village to turn churches into temporary homeless shelters.
But that’s what Kendall County PADS has been doing for the past nine years. The last two years have also entailed transforming a secondary school into one of its seven shelter sites, which are open every night during the colder six months of the calendar.
And the homeless support group receives a whole lot of help from donors, volunteers, public agencies and charitable organizations, according to Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS.
“I have the unique privilege of meeting the homeless guests who come to our shelters, serving side by side with our volunteers, and working with our site coordinators, who provide excellent leadership at the seven sites,” Engelhardt said. “In addition, I am fortunate to be in the position to accept for PADS many kinds of assistance from local service agencies which support the mission of providing for the homeless.”
One of those public charities is the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, which recently granted $7,778.51 to Kendall County PADS.
The funds were allocated for tables at Parkview Academy that are used by PADS guests and shared by students at the Yorkville school; 14 cots that have been equally distributed at the seven shelter sites and used to accommodate guests who are infirm, elderly, disabled, or otherwise physically challenged; and replacement of about one-third of PADS’ oldest basic supplies such as towels, wash cloths, blankets, pillowcases, mattresses, and mattress covers.
“We strive to sustain a healthy and comfortable environment,” Engelhardt said. “We want to treat our guests in ways we would care for guests in our own homes, keeping in mind their needs.”
The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, founded in 1948, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, philanthropic organization that administers individual charitable funds from which grants and scholarships are distributed to benefit the citizens of the Greater Aurora Area, the Tri-Cities and Kendall County.
Individuals, families, businesses and organizations have the opportunity to custom-design their own named funds that reflect their charitable goals and interests. Since its inception, the Community Foundation has grown to more than $89 million in assets and has awarded more than $70.5 million in grants and scholarships. For more information on the foundation, visit cffrv.org.
The foundation helped launch the shelter program in 2010 with a $6,519 grant to cover capital costs. Since then, Kendall County PADS has served a total of 428 homeless guests, provided 9,725 overnight stays, and served 29,209 meals, including breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The totals do not include figures from the current shelter season, which began Oct. 19.
The “village people” who put together PADS include 600 unpaid volunteers. Most volunteers serve one or two times each month for four and a half hours. Some of the site coordinators serve every week.
PADS also partners with the Kendall County sheriff’s office, food pantry and health department as well as Aurora University, whose social work interns assist guests with employment, personal issues and permanent housing.
The shelters are open from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. through April 20: Sundays at Cross Lutheran Church, 8609 Route 47, Yorkville; Mondays at Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ, 409 Center Parkway, Yorkville; Tuesdays at Harvest New Beginnings church, 5315 Douglas Road, Oswego; Wednesdays at Parkview Christian Academy, upper campus, 202 E. Countryside Parkway, Yorkville; Thursdays at Trinity United Methodist Church, 2505 Boomer Lane, Yorkville; Fridays at Church of the Good Shepherd, 5 W. Washington St., Oswego; Saturdays at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 53 Fernwood Road, Boulder Hill.
PADS of Kendall County is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) group funded by donations received from grants, gifts, individuals, organizations and businesses. Those who wish to donate or volunteer may call 630-553-5073 or visit kendallcountypads.org.
“PADS knows that shelter and nourishing foods are a foundation for the homeless,” Engelhardt said. “When they are consistently safe, nourished and rested, homeless people can begin to work through stages of change.”