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updated: 3/12/2013 5:19 AM

Caring in action: Fundraiser helps PADS address changing needs of homeless

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  • CBS 2 news reporter Dave Savini serves as emcee of Taste of Hope, which supports DuPage PADS programs to offer shelter and education and employment services to the county's homeless.

    CBS 2 news reporter Dave Savini serves as emcee of Taste of Hope, which supports DuPage PADS programs to offer shelter and education and employment services to the county's homeless.
    Courtesy of Robyn Sheldon

  • DuPage PADS' Taste of Hope offers a sampling of delicacies from more than 25 area chefs.

    DuPage PADS' Taste of Hope offers a sampling of delicacies from more than 25 area chefs.
    Courtesy of Robyn Sheldon

  • Video: Mission of DuPage PADS


DuPage PADS has a clear and simply stated mission: to end homelessness in DuPage County.

For 27 years, the organization has recruited teams of volunteers to provide emergency overnight shelter for the homeless among us, giving those with nowhere to go a safe place to sleep, a good meal and maybe a change of clothes.

But to really end homelessness, PADS leaders know it takes more than opening the doors to a shelter each night. Over time, the organization has added transitional housing and life skills mentoring, as well as an array of job assistance programs ranging from GED certification to partnerships with employers that aid in job placement.

In the past few years, PADS has seen an increasing number of families with children. For example, 138 families with 236 children sought help last year -- an increase of 29 percent in the number of families and an increase of 39 percent in the number of children over the previous year.

To address the changing demographics, PADS launched the Family Outreach Program to connect with families that use the shelter and emergency services from time to time. The goal is to work with the families consistently so they can stabilize their housing situation and focus on regaining self-sufficiency.

DuPage PADS has a modest staff and an army of volunteers but depends on grants, donations and fundraising to support its efforts. To that end, the organization will sponsor its seventh annual Taste of Hope on Thursday, March 14, giving supporters the opportunity to sample creations from the minds and kitchens of more than 25 area chefs.

Today, PADS Director of Development Janelle Barcelona tells us more about PADS' efforts to end homelessness.

Q. What is PADS' mission? Whom do you aim to help?

A. The mission of DuPage PADS is to end homelessness in DuPage County. Our solution is housing, coupled with support services and education/employment. Over the years, DuPage PADS has grown to be the largest provider of services to families and individuals who are homeless in DuPage County. The Interim (Overnight) Housing program operates with the partnership of more than 130 congregations and service organizations in 27 congregation sites throughout the county along with 4,000 volunteers. In addition to being the largest provider of interim (overnight) housing in the county, DuPage PADS is also the largest provider of permanent supportive housing, with 76 apartments throughout the county.

Q. What do you do?

A. DuPage PADS' goal is to provide a holistic model of services to individuals and families who are homeless, giving them the best opportunity to establish a healthy lifestyle and work toward reaching their full potential.

At our interim (overnight) housing sites we provide men, women and children who are homeless with meals, shelter, safety and most importantly provide a network and support system that can mean permanent housing and employment.

Our Client Service Center, open during regular business hours in downtown Wheaton, provides food, support groups, access to case management, career and employment counseling all with the goal of providing opportunities for clients to redirect their lives.

In addition to the interim (overnight) housing program and our Client Service Center, DuPage PADS has a successful employment and education program. This past year, the program resulted in 73 percent of clients seeking assistance find jobs and doubled the number of employer partners in the community from 10 to 20. These employer partners represent diverse industries including manufacturing, health care, financial and various service industries.

Q. Are there other local organizations with a similar mission? What sets you apart? How do you collaborate with them?

A. Our mission is to end homelessness in DuPage County. Our solution to ending homelessness is providing housing, coupled with support services and education/employment. DuPage PADS partners with more than 50 health, legal and social service agencies that continually provide their resources and expertise to assist our clients who are homeless. Some of our partners include Literacy DuPage, Prairie State Legal Services, DuPage County Health Department, DuPage Veterans Commission, Access DuPage and more.

Q. What changes have you seen in the community and the need for your services in the past three years? What specific changes has PADS made in response?

A. In recent years we have seen an increase in the number of families and children seeking assistance. Last year we served 1,398 individuals including 236 children and 138 families. These numbers represent a 39 percent increase in the number of children and a 29 percent increase in the number of families served over the previous year.

We observed that some families who were homeless were staying at a motel or temporarily with family or friends and were only sporadically using our services. To engage these families in obtaining mainstream benefits, support services and advocate for the educational needs of the children, DuPage PADS created the Family Outreach program, where a case manager reaches out to families who have used DuPage PADS' services inconsistently. Obtaining housing is the main goal of this outreach service. Last year the new Family Outreach program assisted 46 families and 27 of those households have left the program to stable housing and 16 are still active in the program.

Q. What major accomplishments has PADS achieved in the past three years?

A. In December, DuPage PADS was able to move 12 families and individuals into 12 new apartments before the holidays. This was a very exciting time and for these 12 families and individuals, DuPage PADS was able to make their holiday wish a reality. This brings the total of permanent supportive housing apartments to 76. As a result of all of the DuPage PADS' housing program and supportive services, 342 individuals including 109 children obtained housing in our community this past year.

Q. What goals have you set for the coming year?

A. Introduce our new branding.

Refine and enhance client services.

Develop systems and infrastructure to support growth.

Q. What are your long-term goals for the next five years? Ten years?

A. Strengthen the capacity of the organization to develop innovative solutions to ending homelessness. Link mission, performance and impact for cost-effective and efficient operations.

Q. Tell us about the Taste of Hope.

A. The Taste of Hope, on Thursday, March 14, is a favorite among DuPage PADS supporters. Guests are able to enjoy an array of culinary delights from more than 25 of the area's most elite restaurants with wine pairings and an open bar. Chef Amaury Rosado of Chef Amaury's Epicurean Affair will return for his fourth year as the honorary chair for the event and Dave Savini, CBS 2 news reporter, will entertain guests as the evening's emcee and auctioneer. Music, auctions and the opportunity to benefit a local charity will leave everyone feeling like winners.

Q. Will the proceeds support general operations or a specific program or project?

A. Funds raised will support DuPage PADS programs that provide housing and support services, including education and employment to assist individuals and families who are homeless in DuPage County.

Q. How long have you been hosting Taste of Hope? How many people attended last year? How much money was raised last year? How was the money used last year? What are your goals for this year?

A. Since 2007, DuPage PADS has planned the Taste of Hope, and last year more than 500 people attended and the event was sold out a week prior to the event. Last year more than $150,000 was raised for support services for those in our housing programs, including education and employment, transportation and prescriptions. We hope to sell out again this year.

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