Having ended our 15th shelter season, the board of directors and the staff at West Suburban PADS would like to publicly thank our support congregations and shelter volunteers for their dedication and commitment throughout the eight month shelter season.

The “PADS” model of emergency shelter, in which rotating shelter sites house our overnight emergency shelter, relies heavily on community resources. Eleven faith congregations in Oak Park, Forest Park, Maywood, Franklin Park and Berwyn donate their buildings for the shelter sites and hundreds of volunteers – including over 40 local faith congregations and numerous scouting troops, service clubs and school groups – staff the shelter and purchase, cook and serve the three meals from Sept. 15 through May 15 each year.

As a result of this massive community-based effort, PADS was able to provide 10,861 nights of shelter and serve 32,583 meals to 497 homeless men, women and children this past season. The volunteer hours and food donated by our 1,000-strong volunteer corps generated over $400,000 in in-kind donations this year, stretching our modest shelter budget to almost twice its cash value. It is the commitment of these extraordinarily selfless and generous individuals – our friends and neighbors – who make it all possible.

While these facts and figures are impressive, it is truly heart-warming to witness the kindness and compassion of our volunteers as they interact with the most vulnerable members of our community. Very often, the warm welcome that our guests receive when they come into the shelter on a cold winter night is the first kind word they have heard all day. And we have seen how the simple act of lending a nonjudgmental ear to a shelter guests during what is usually the lowest moment in his or her life can begin the healing process. Perhaps the words of one of our former shelter guests says it best: “Your help this season will be impossible for me to forget. You made this winter bearable for me. I thank you very much for your help.”

So, on behalf of West Suburban PADS and the hundreds of homeless men, women and children who received your food and shelter this season, we thank you. We couldn’t do it without you!

Lynda Schueler    
Executive director   
Heather Winquist
Shelter manager

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