According to the National Alliance to End Homeless, an estimated 176,224 homeless people live on the streets instead of shelters in America; even so, that number only makes up about one-third of the entire homeless population. Homelessness is an issue all over Illinois, too, including Dupage County. DuPage Pads, an organization that provides support services in order to help eliminate homelessness, has been effectively achieving its goal for over 30 years.
One misconception concerning homelessness is the idea that people in poverty are homeless due to their lack of success and work. DuPage Pads board of directors chair Jane Doyle believes that most of those who have become homeless are in their situation because of a traumatic event in their life, leading to the loss of their homes and families.
“The bottom line is, it’s something catastrophic that causes homelessness. People get evicted, there’s domestic abuse, people get sick, they lose a job,” Doyle said.
Dupage Pads, however, is effectively eliminating homelessness through its various support services. Besides the overnight housing provided 365 days of the year, Pads offers a client service center that provides lunches, laundry and shower facilities. Even linkages to medical, substance abuse, and mental health services are arranged. Dupage Pads also provides career employment solutions and supportive housing to move people off the streets and into apartments.
“So many people think that Pads is just a pad on a floor,” Doyle said. “But from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. during the day, it’s all these other programs going on to help prevent homelessness.”
Dupage Pads stresses that whether it’s 2, 200, or 2,000 dollars, anything is helpful. Many donations come in the form of volunteer hours. Over 4,000 volunteers, including students from DGN, donated over 78,000 hours to DuPage Pads in 2015.
Senior Kaleb Pfotenhauer volunteers at Pads every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. from October through March. He helps by wiping down and stacking pads, tables and chairs.
“I [volunteer] because I started doing it last year when a few seniors invited me, and I loved helping out,” Pfotenhauer said.
Volunteers can also contribute at the four main fundraising events hosted by DuPage Pads each year. The most recent event was Wake Up Your Spirit Breakfast on Nov. 2, and all are encouraged to participate in #givingtuesday on Nov. 29.