Throughout this harsh winter, most of us have bundled up and dashed between the house and the car, the car and the office. We get inside where it's warm, shed most of our layers and complain about how brutal those fleeting moments of exposure to the polar vortex were.
We, clearly, are the fortunate ones who have homes to protect us.
If you goWhat: Taste of Hope: Chefs Uniting to End Homelessnes
Why: Proceeds support DuPage PADS' programs to help the county's homeless
When: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6
Where: Abbington Distinctive Banquets, 3S002 Route 53, Glen Ellyn
Info: (630) 682-3846, ext. 2520; dupagepads.org/events or firstname.lastname@example.org
All winter long -- and every day of the year -- volunteers from DuPage PADS open the doors of faith-based congregations to provide shelter, clean beds and free meals to the homeless individuals and families in our communities and help ensure that no one needs to spend a night weathering the dangerous cold.
Overnight shelter is merely the beginning of DuPage PADS' mission to end homelessness in DuPage County. The organization reaches out to those who visit, offering an array of supportive services and counseling aimed at getting at the cause of homelessness and starting the journey back to self-sufficiency.
At the Client Service Center in Wheaton, PADS offers help with basic needs, counseling and mentoring, connections to medical services and substance abuse treatment programs, as well as lunch and laundry and shower facilities.
Through the Employment and Education Center, clients can work with case managers to obtain their GED or improve their literacy or computer skills, develop their job-hunting and workforce skills, seek jobs with PADS' employment partners, and learn money management techniques.
Meanwhile, PADS' Permanent Supportive Housing Program has 76 apartments throughout the county to provide homes for the chronically homeless who have a demonstrated history of mental or physical disability or substance abuse while the clients receive services.
On Thursday, March 6, more than 25 area chefs will come together to support DuPage PADS' mission with A Taste of Hope. The evening offers a sampling of favorite dishes paired with wines, as well as music and a live auction.
Today, Janelle Barcelona, PADS' director of development, tells us more about the agency.
Q. What is the organization's 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 employment. DuPage PADS is often the first point of entry for the homeless population and serves the majority of DuPage's chronically homeless families and individuals.
Q. What do you do?
A. DuPage PADS works in partnership with congregations and community groups, along with more than 4,000 dedicated volunteers with one goal in mind: to end homelessness in DuPage County. DuPage PADS transforms lives by providing people who are homeless with housing, support services and employment. DuPage PADS strives to help individuals gain the skills needed to build and sustain independence and reintegrate back into the community.
Q. Are there other local organizations with a similar mission? What sets you apart? How do you collaborate with them?
A. DuPage PADS is the only nonrestrictive provider of emergency shelter in the county. DuPage PADS partners with more than 50 health, legal and social service agencies that continually provide their resources and expertise to assist those who are homeless. Some of the partnering organizations include Literacy DuPage, Prairie State Legal Services, DuPage County Health Department and DuPage Veterans Commission.
Q. What changes have you seen in the community and the need for your services in the past three years? What specific changes has your organization made in response?
A. Over the past two years, DuPage PADS has seen a 44 percent increase in the number of children and a 35 percent increase in the number of families seeking assistance.
To better serve these families, DuPage PADS developed a Family Outreach program for families that are staying with friends or in hotels. Case managers ensure these families stay linked to community resources and create a plan for permanent housing.
Last year this program served 199 individuals; 64 percent are now in stable housing, including 44 adults and 84 children.
Individuals and families who are homeless often have pressing health concerns. With the health of program participants in mind, DuPage PADS began a Respite Program. This short-term residential program allows individuals who are homeless to have the opportunity to rest (normally in a motel) after being discharged from a hospital.
During this time, people are provided access to medical care, support services and options for housing. This past year, the Respite Program served 44 individuals, and 45 percent are now in stable housing.
Q. What major accomplishments has your organization achieved in the past three years?
A. DuPage PADS has been able to grow the number of Permanent Supportive Housing apartments from 64 to 76. This makes us the largest provider of permanent supportive housing in the county. As a result of our efforts over the past year, more than 500 individuals now have a place to call "home."
For the first time in 28 years, more than 4,000 volunteers have convenient access to comprehensive training. As a result of a grant from the DuPage Community Foundation Spirit of Volunteerism Fund, DuPage PADS was able to develop and implement an online volunteer training program.
In the training, volunteers learn about the agency's mission to end homelessness, programs and services provided, best practices in risk management, volunteer roles and more.
One year ago, DuPage PADS launched its new brand. We believe the new "look," updated logo, vibrant color and tagline better represent what really takes place at DuPage PADS: "When someone believes in you, everything can change."
Q. What goals have you set for the coming year?
A. One of the goals in the coming year is to grow the Street Outreach program for individuals who are homeless but not consistently using Interim (Overnight) Housing sites. The goal of this program is to keep individuals engaged with their case manager, who assists in providing access to all eligible benefits and works on a plan for stable housing.
Another goal is to expand the Planned Giving and Major Gifts Program. DuPage PADS has created a Legacy Society, which offers many planned giving options to ensure the continued success of DuPage PADS.
More information can be found online at dupagepads.org/plannedgiving.
Q. What are the organization's long-term goals for the next five years? Ten years?
A. The long-term goal is to end chronic homelessness in DuPage County.
DuPage PADS is working to strengthen the capacity of the organization by developing innovative solutions that link mission, performance and impact for cost-effective and efficient operations.
Q. Describe your upcoming event for someone who has never attended or participated. What is your favorite element of the event?
A. The eighth annual Taste of Hope on Thursday, March 6, 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 fifth year as the honorary chair for the event, and Ray Kinney 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 case management and employment to assist individuals and families who are homeless in DuPage County.
Q. How long have you been doing this? How many people attended last year? How much money was raised? How was the money used? What are your goals for this year?
A. Since 2007, DuPage PADS has hosted the annual Taste of Hope. Last year, more than 500 people attended and tickets were sold out. More than $150,000 was raised for support services for those in the housing program. DuPage PADS hopes to once again sell out this year.