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updated: 3/7/2013 6:24 PM

Lombard library shelters homeless during storm

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  • The Helen Plum Memorial Library in Lombard allowed homeless people awaiting shelter at a PADS site to stay at the library from its closing at 1 p.m. Tuesday until the shelter at First Church of Lombard opened early at 5 p.m. The collaboration provided shelter for about a dozen people throughout the snowy afternoon.

       The Helen Plum Memorial Library in Lombard allowed homeless people awaiting shelter at a PADS site to stay at the library from its closing at 1 p.m. Tuesday until the shelter at First Church of Lombard opened early at 5 p.m. The collaboration provided shelter for about a dozen people throughout the snowy afternoon.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

When Helen Plum Memorial Library Director Bob Harris decided to close the facility early during Tuesday's snowstorm, he didn't want to send homeless patrons out into the nasty weather.

Roughly a dozen people would have been forced into the storm from the time the library closed at 1 p.m. until the scheduled 7 p.m. opening of the DuPage PADS shelter across the street at First Church of Lombard.

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"I didn't want to stay open because of concerns about travel and safety in the storm, but I also didn't want to tell the people waiting for the shelter that we were closed, so I just stayed here," Harris said Thursday. "It just seemed like the right thing to do."

Harris started planning Monday night for the possibility of closing the library earlier than usual Tuesday. He contacted Sandra Hill, outreach coordinator for First Church of Lombard, and asked if she could make shelter available before 7 p.m., when the church normally becomes a site for DuPage PADS, or Public Action to Deliver Shelter, every Tuesday.

Hill agreed and volunteers came in two hours early to offer shelter beginning at 5 p.m.

"It's just another example of how well a community can work together when we try to take care of people," Hill said.

Harris and a building monitor stayed at the library until the church opened, explaining to would-be visitors that the facility was closed for normal business but available as a warming shelter.

Former library board member Kris Johnson and volunteers including current board member Wayne Kankovsky also were at the library showing the weekly Tuesday movie to those awaiting the PADS shelter's opening.

Three of those who remained at the library Tuesday afternoon watched "Monty Python's Life of Brian" with Johnson and Kankovsky, while Harris said others read or surfed the Internet.

Kankovsky said Harris made the right decision to keep the library open for those who needed "some place that was warm at least, and not slushy."

This was the first time the library and church collaborated to keep homeless people warm and dry during a storm, Harris said.

"It's one small thing that we could do that has a good impact," Kankovsky said.

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