Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Last Saturday I visited with the people availing of West Suburban PADS overnight shelter. There is no way I can put into words how I feel when I look at their faces. Each with their own story. In today’s economy it is all too often we hear of people losing a job, using up savings only to then lose one’s home and be turned out on the streets. There are many different reasons the people there last Saturday night were there, some recently homeless, others more long term. These are people we see every day, we sit beside eachother at a cafe or in the library, we pass on the street, they work in our community.
This could be you, this could be me, this could be my child, my sibling or my parent.

One man now back in housing told of two nights during his time on the street when there wasn't room at the shelter. I asked what he did, "Walk, you have to keep walking, you just can't stop, you walk all night".

This last photo I took when this young man sat down to dinner in the basement of the church that was providing shelter for the night. The flag spoke volumes to me.
Here is one of America's youth, sitting down to his evening meal at a shelter for people who at this moment in time do not have a home.

For those of you who do not know about West Suburban PADS, they provide overnight shelters and food for those in need of a safe place to sleep.
a Homeless Prevention Program, an Interim Housing program, an “Outreach & Engagement” program with two full-time specialists working on-site in the emergency shelter seven nights a week, Employment Readiness, and a lot more.

The women and men (and sometimes families) line up outside the location of the overnight shelter which opens at 7.30pm nightly. There is a friendly vibe and people are happy to share their story. Inside local teen students lay out the 'beds' pads, blankets and pillows on the floor. Volunteers from the church bring in dinner for the clients. Others set up a table with toiletries and personal items for the clients.
Once the clients enter, they dress their bed for the night and sit for dinner, one of the students leads a prayer and then the meal is served. People chat and hang out, some nights there are showers available, sometimes a medical or legal clinic. Since 2010 there is an “Outreach & Engagement” program with two full-time specialists. Their role is to assertively outreach persons identified as chronically homeless and connect them with supportive services that enable pursuit of a housing plan. During the 2010-2011 shelter season, these efforts resulted in 36% of PADS chronically homeless shelter guests moving from the shelter into permanent supportive housing.
Friendships are made here.

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