By Camille Severino:
When was the last time you slept on the street? I’m hoping that all the people reading this answer that question with a never. The odds, well, they tell a different story. According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless it seems that 116,042 Chicagoans were homeless during the 2012-2013 school year. And, they claim that number is up 10% from the previous school year. This is a staggering number.
But, that is where wonderful organizations like West Suburban Pads come to the rescue. West Suburban Pads, located at 1851 S. 9th Avenue in Maywood, is a group that has been battling homelessness since 1992. They have a myriad of programs starting with Emergency Shelter Services, which is open during the colder months of the year. This program travels from church to church each night of the week from the months of September through May. It shelters forty to seventy homeless every night from seven-thirty at night until seven o’clock the next morning. Doug Michaud, board member and Special Events committee chair for PADS says this “program is…dependent on volunteers.” Currently there are eleven hundred volunteers that help in this program.
PADS also host a summer shelter, which focuses more on families. This program is reserved from June to August and there are approximately a dozen participants. Case management is involved with this program and individuals receive a lot of one on one time with case managers. This program also offers life skills training and similar agendas over the summer.
Supportive housing is another program run by West Suburban PADS, which helps individuals transitioning away from homelessness. Interim housing is available at the YMCA. They provide shelter primarily for men that have some sort of income.
There are other housing programs where PADS provides financial assistance like rent deposits. Another is the Employment Readiness Services, which counsel individuals to identify what is keeping them from getting or sustaining employment. PADS also accept applications for an intensive class, which focuses on resumes, looking at job postings and how to conduct yourself in an interview.
And that’s the unique thing about pads. They are setting a goal to end homelessness not just by putting people up for the night. According to Development Manager Teri Miller PADS looks “at each person individually to find out what it is that they need in order to get in a home and stay in a home.”
After reading all that I wouldn’t be surprised if you ran out and signed up to volunteer today. Board Member Doug Michaud’s family does. He and his family serve dinner in the shelter because they feel “it’s good to give back.”
“It’s a very nice way,” he adds, “for a family to do something like that together. And it obviously helps West Suburban Pads tremendously because we rely on a huge network of volunteers to make it work.”
But maybe you feel you just don’t have the time right now between your studies and family and work. Well, here’s another way you can help this wonderful organization. Attend the 2013 PADS Halloween BASH.
On Saturday, October 26th, West Suburban PADS will be hosting their second annual Rockin’ Halloween Costume Bash. This costume party will include live music by Spoken Four, which is a Chicago based cover band that Teri describes as “exceptional.”
“They have a really tight sound with quality singers. And, they play such a variety of music it will really speak to the diverse crowd we usually get.”
Other goings on at PADS Rockin’ Halloween Costume Bash will be a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture show. Acting along is encouraged.
Also included with the ticket is open bar and food. A palm reader, face painter and photo booth will also be available. There will be a professional photographer on sight and everyone gets a copy of their picture.
All of this fun for the low price of a $75 ticket. $125 for couples. Friends can take advantage of the couple’s pricing as well.
According to Doug Michaud every single donation helps tremendously.
“A large percentage of our budget is from Federal and State grants but a very sizable percentage of our budget is dependent on donations from the community and fundraising events like this party. We really appreciate any help.”
For more information or to purchase tickets go to http://www.westsuburbanpads.org/events/special-events.