Lest you think all residents of Oak Park and River Forest are still hibernating after Snowmageddon 2011, allow me to warm your heart with a few tales from a great celebration Feb. 12 at the River Forest Country Club, in a forest of another name 10 miles west of here — a whole world away — in a room filled with people who are, indeed, changing the world.
Since perhaps you weren't present, I need to relay to you the amazing "success story" of Erica, who just climbed a mountain of a life challenge along with her husband, Ray. Despite all that she survived in past years, she somehow found the strength to stand before this crowd of hundreds with a million dollar smile, but not a dime in her pocket. Erica radiated success like no one I've ever met. And yet she claimed to be "the product of us caring enough," as she told a roomful of supporters that her pride almost sent her to a street corner to become yet another statistic of homelessness. Luckily, she was caught in the inspirational and supportive safety net of the amazing team at West Suburban PADS, whose motto is "Homeless, not hopeless." If, in this great recession, I have met anyone who radiated hope and gratitude more so than Erica, I don't remember them. I was honored to be in her presence. I was uplifted by her words: "It takes people like you to help people like me," she closed, leaving me wondering who exactly was helping whom here.
"Solving homelessness: We can do this. You are part of this," Super Woman and PADS Director Lynda Schueler encouraged us all to rise to our better angels. She should know; she led the team that guided 842 PADS clients to success and stability last year. And that surely is something to warm your heart on this cold winter night.
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give," Winston Churchill said. I wonder — what can you give? I know — PADS needs it so others can live! I promise that you will be gifted in return, in surprising ways that you cannot yet even envision. Trust me, or call me for even more stories: There are 842 of them for 2010 alone. Imagine a world without PADS; I don't want to have to. Make a life today at www.westsuburbanpads.org.
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