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updated: 7/14/2014 5:00 PM

Foundation grants help fund emergency assistance throughout the county

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The DuPage Community Foundation

During the past five years, more than $100,000 in grants from The DuPage Community Foundation have been awarded to local not-for-profit agencies that residents called on when times suddenly got tough--or tougher.

Sometimes unforeseen circumstances force people into unemployment, disability or other natural misfortune. These are some of the circumstances that warrant emergency assistance.

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The DuPage Community Foundation has funded a number of community agencies that help people get back on their feet when they find themselves in a difficult financial position.

"Most of the agencies that were funded by the foundation do not sustain their support to clients," explained Barb Szczepaniak, foundation director of programs. "Assistance is provided on a temporary basis so that unforeseen expenses, such as an emergency dental bill or car repair, do not force people out of their homes due to their inability to pay the mortgage or rent, as a result of the unexpected expenses. Temporary emergency assistance can often prevent a family's life from quickly spiraling out of control."

Foundation grants provided funding to several agencies that offer emergency assistance for

clients. Some of these agencies are listed below, along with the areas they serve:

• Catholic Charities, Joliet Diocese (catholiccharitiesjoliet.org) -- Catholic Charities provided emergency and homelessness prevention services to 2,219 DuPage County residents in 2013 alone, 966 of whom were children.

Headquartered in Lombard, Catholic Charities offers diverse programs. Catholic Charities uses emergency assistance funds from the Foundation for its homelessness prevention program. In 2013, 66 percent of the families served were extremely low income, at or below 30 percent of median family income. 105 households consisting of 358 members were prevented from entering homelessness. 131 individuals were moved into permanent housing from homeless shelters. Catholic Charities also maintains a 16-bed homeless facility in Villa Park and housing in DuPage for 22 transitional and 40 permanent guests.

• Elmhurst Walk-In Ministry (elmhurstwalkinministry.org) -- Clients of Elmhurst

Walk-In Ministry are generally assisted with rent and utility assistance, addressing the basic needs of shelter with adequate heat, electricity and water. When all bills cannot be paid due to illness, loss of work, temporary layoffs or other conditions, clients request help.

Elmhurst Walk-In Ministry shared a story of one of its clients in the final grant report presented to the Foundation. The client, who we will refer to as "Lynn," is a teacher's aide. During the school year, Lynn was able to support herself and save enough money for the summer months when she would not be working. Due to unforeseen illness, Lynn had to spend more than

budgeted on tests and medication, leaving her short for her rent payment. Elmhurst Walk-In Ministry was able to provide assistance that really made a difference in her life. A thank-you not to them read, "Just a little note to express my appreciation for your help. I pray that God continues to bless you to be a blessing to others as you were to me."

• HOPES Front Door (hopesfrontdoor.com), serving Darien, Downers Grove, Lisle, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge -- Assists clients (primarily unemployed, underemployed, homeless, disabled and seniors) who need food, medical supplies and prescription drugs, as well as transportation. HOPES Front Door also works to connect uninsured clients with health care programs and resources they need to manage their illnesses or health care long-term.

In addition to its long-term programs and counseling, HOPES Front Door uses emergency assistance funds primarily to provide food and transportation vouchers. Vouchers may also address a pressing need for medical assistance (e.g., a resident just released from the hospital who is without funds to buy needed prescriptions) or urgent dental care. The agency maintains "partnerships" with various community pharmacies and dentists who accept work within the voucher system.

• Itasca Walk-In Ministry (www.itasca.com), serving residents of Itasca, members of Itasca churches, families with children in Itasca schools and people working in the community) -- The agency also serves people passing through on a one-time basis who are neither residents nor fall under the other guidelines. The mission includes making limited prescription payments, utility payments, rent or mortgage payments, car repairs and travel vouchers for travel to work. Itasca Walk-In Ministry also networks with other agencies to provide additional assistance to its clients in other areas, including counseling.

• Naperville CARES (www.napervillecares.org), serving residents of Naperville, any member of a Naperville congregation and DuPage County residents who are actively involved with a partner social service agency) -- The mission of Naperville CARES is to help local families in financial crisis meet their essential needs by providing emergency financial support and resources.

• Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Philip the Apostle Church, Addison (www.svdpusa.com) -- Clients who sought assistance from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Philip the Apostle Church were primarily looking for rent assistance. From a single mother to a family of five to residents of Serenity House (a halfway house that provides housing and counseling to those with substance and chemical abuse), funds were able to help bridge the gap for these individuals and families who otherwise may not have had anywhere to turn for help.

All of the agencies mentioned above receive requests for emergency rent and utility assistance. A thank-you received by Naperville CARES illustrates such an emergency: "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping our family with the security deposit so that we could rent an apartment after losing our house."

Child care and car repairs are also at times urgently needed so that a family can just keep going. Agencies network. If one cannot help, it directs those in need to qualified sources that can.

By supporting diverse emergency agencies, these health and human services grants from The DuPage Community Foundation -- awarded each spring as part of the community needs grant cycle -- provide a strong backup for families in need across the County.

About The DuPage Community Foundation:

The DuPage Community Foundation seeks to raise the quality of life throughout DuPage County by fostering philanthropy, connecting donors to area needs and building community partnerships. Based on the American virtues of volunteerism and philanthropy, the Foundation fosters a legacy of support for the people of DuPage County by making grants to not-for-profit organizations working in the areas of arts and culture, education, environment, health, and human services. Since its inception, the Foundation has built its endowment to nearly $59 million and awarded more than $19 million in grants to nonprofit agencies serving the residents of DuPage County and beyond.

Established in 1986, The DuPage Community Foundation is a publicly-supported 501(c)(3) organization to which contributions are tax deductible. It was created to benefit the people of DuPage County and receives contributions and bequests into a permanent endowment from individuals, corporations, organizations and foundations wishing to make lasting contributions to the people of DuPage. The earnings on these funds are then used, in accordance with donor wishes, for the Foundation's grantmaking and community leadership activities.

For more information about the Foundation, please contact Joelyn Kott, marketing & communications officer, at (630) 665-5556, ext. 19, or jkott@dcfdn.org.

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