A Palatine-based program for the homeless has seen its largest number of clients in 10 years during the first weeks of January, the group's chief executive said Friday.
For the weeks beginning Jan. 7 and 14, Journeys/The Road Home's PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) homeless shelters cared for 636 and 633 guests respectively, said Journeys Executive Director Beth Nabors.
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"The reality of what we see in our Palatine day center weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. is more people needing more things, from transportation to get a family to their extended family outside of the state so that they can share living accommodations, to tracking down and locating birth and identity records for someone without renter's insurance who lost everything in an apartment fire so that they can start over and look for affordable housing, to meeting with school counselors and administrators to coordinate transportation for children in our shelter system," said Nabors.
"We are seeing more families, more children and more issues," she said. "Even if we hear the message from reporters that the economy is improving, we see firsthand that people are still struggling and that in our Northwest suburban area that people are still losing their homes and families are still being misplaced."
Journeys is a nonprofit agency that provides services and shelter, and networks thousands of volunteers and various local agencies to work together on behalf of individuals and families that have lost, or are in danger of losing, their homes in North and Northwest suburban Cook County. It serves 23 towns and eight townships.
"One of our requirements for service is that your last known address be from our service area," Nabors said. "We are neighbors helping neighbors. Our staff, volunteers and board members are all local. Many times people we went to school with or who have kids that play with our kids on sports teams come in for services."
"Journeys is the only agency in the area that purely helps people who are struggling financially," explained Nabors. "We have professional staff on hand that can counsel those special populations at our day center. We have licensed and master's-level clinicians on site to address the numerous issues that make someone financially unstable," she said.
The agency does not charge for its services. "Every one of our programs have been developed because no one else was willing to provide those services or able to provide those services."
The only people excluded from the shelters are violent felons and those convicted of sex crimes. Journeys does refer those people to shelters in the city that have clinical staff on site and specialize in Department of Correction releases. However, those people can receive services in the Palatine day center.
"We are proud to provide a service that helps a human being with the basic needs of life. How is one supposed to find stable employment without a warm place to sleep at night?" Nabors asked.
Journeys recently changed its tagline from "PADS to HOPE" to "The Road Home" to reflect that the idea of a solid home has become a more precarious one for many.
"'The Road Home' will always be the focus at Journeys. While we stand by our clients through every roadblock and setback they may face, our ultimate goal is to help our clients find their way home," she said.
More information is at www.journeystheroadhome.org or call (847) 963-9163.