St. Viator junior starts GoFundMe to help homeless

  • John O'Neill, a junior at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, has started a GoFundMe campaign to pay for hotel rooms for the homeless during the pandemic. From left are Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, of St. Viator; O'Neill; and Beth Nabors, executive director of Journeys: The Road Home.

    John O'Neill, a junior at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, has started a GoFundMe campaign to pay for hotel rooms for the homeless during the pandemic. From left are Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, of St. Viator; O'Neill; and Beth Nabors, executive director of Journeys: The Road Home. Courtesy of St. Viator High School

 
Submitted by St. Viator High School
Posted3/27/2020 9:21 AM

It was a routine even a high school student grew to like: Every Thursday morning, John O'Neill, a junior from Barrington, met up with his classmates -- before school -- at the PADS site at the Presbyterian Church of Palatine.

Each time, they scrubbed down the pads, tables and chairs used the night before during the temporary shelter hosted by the church.

 

"I went and fell in love with volunteering," says O'Neill, who started going in October when this year's PADS season opened. "It went from volunteering to having fun."

It's a tradition that's been going on for the last 10 year with Saint Viator students. It was started by Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, who continues to accompany students, along with Cathy Abrahamian.

But O'Neill has taken it one step further.

Faced with the sudden closing of the PADS site after the "stay at home" order by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, O'Neill worried about what would happen to the people who depended on the network of PADS shelters hosted by Northwest suburban faith communities and Journeys: The Road Home, a resource center for the homeless in Palatine.

On March 23, on what would have been the start of his spring break, John started a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $1,000, or enough to pay for an individual or family in a hotel room for three weeks.

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All funds are earmarked for Journeys and its services for the homeless.

In just one day, he quickly surpassed his goal. One day later, he set a new goal of $2,000 and quickly surpassed that as well.

"Due to (the governor's order), we have many people who regularly come to PADS living on the streets," O'Neill said to supporters on his GoFundMe page.

He followed a lead donation made by the Clerics of St. Viator, who pledged $63,000 to house 60 people for three weeks.

"This is in line with our mission as a Catholic religious community." said Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, Provincial, in a letter to supporters.

Inspired by the Viatorians, O'Neill says he will continue raising money and awareness of the needs of the homeless during this pandemic.

"Unfortunately, we do not know how long this pandemic will go on," he says, "so I decided to raise money in case there was an extra family or individual who needed shelter, or if we have to have them live in these hotels for more than three weeks."

Visit O'Neill's GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/john039s-campaign-for-pads-to-hope-inc.

To find out more about services offered by Journeys and how you can help, visit www.journeystheroadhome.org.

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