Hesed House works to end homelessness in Fox Valley
In the early 1980s, Aurora churches and concerned citizens formed a coalition to provide shelter, food and clothing to the homeless in their area. Originally, the coalition rotated the shelter between six church halls, eventually purchasing property in Aurora and forming Hesed House as it is known today.
Hesed House is the second largest shelter in Illinois and the largest outside the city of Chicago, serving about 1,000 people every year. With over 7,000 volunteers and a tenured staff, Hesed House continues to commit itself to ending homelessness in Aurora and the Fox Valley.
"At Hesed House, we believe that there can be an end to homelessness in our country and we're working our butts off to try to end it here," said Executive Director of Hesed House Ryan Dowd.
Over the years, Hesed House has assessed the needs of the homeless population and evolved into more than a shelter. The organization offers programs addressing contributing factors to homelessness such as mental health issues, substance abuse, unemployment and poverty.
Hesed House provides services that address these factors, including employment training and education, mental health counseling, legal services and substance abuse counseling. They also provide schooling for homeless children through the LEAP Program and are a PADS shelter.
"We offer everything a person needs to get back on their feet," said Dowd. "People stay with us for the duration of their homelessness. Over 92 percent of those we serve are able to leave within one year."
Hesed House relies on volunteers and donations to continue their work. Gerald Cares is one organization that believes in Hesed House's mission and is involved with them in a variety of ways. This year, Gerald Cares is donating $100 to Hesed House for every Chicago Blackhawks goal scored this season. Dowd said their support could easily help get 20 people out of homelessness in the next year.
For more on Hesed House, visit www.hesedhouse.org.