Dawn Thrasher, the staff Volunteer Coordinator daily coordinates organizing hundreds of volunteers to assist over 30 churches in the south suburbs who provide emergency temporary overnight shelter for over 1200 guests from as far north as Oak Lawn, and as far south as Chicago Heights. Volunteers include food teams who provide dinner, lunch, and/or breakfast, as well as, other volunteers who serve once a month on 1 of 4 two, three or four hour shifts once a month on any given weekday or weekend evening. Volunteers also assist with fundraising through gala events, tag days, annual August Golf Outing at Glenwoodie in Glenwood, and the upcoming Box City Awareness Event on June 22, 2012 at Saint Lawrence O'toole church grounds in Matteson, located near the corner of 214th and Governors Highway at 4pm.
I came to South Suburban PADS in 2011 seeking shelter and housing assistance. Not only was I provided with emergency shelter, I also received help with job skills, employment search, and receipt of benefits such as SNAP and TANF. Case management helps me achieve personal and PADS goals that lead to self-sufficiency. After a short 4 months, I was housed via Families First Transitional Housing program. This organization has helped me and my family tremendously and continues to offer support.
I have been working with PADS for about six years, cooking breakfast at a local church about ten times a year for the past six years. I admire the administrative organization that Pads brings to it's service of the homeless as it houses the guests at various sites throughout each week. It has shown me the faces of the poor, as well as given me the opportunity to work with wonderful people of different races and religious beliefs. Another group I belong to at my own church and a group from my neighborhood have also provided dinners for South Suburban PADS.
Our church stands behind PADS in the role of food cooking and then bringing the meal to the overnight shelter to serve. I can't think of a single instance of a volunteer being turned off and not wanting to continue helping. My wife and I have been "captains" for 9-10 years and enjoy our church food team, and more importantly, serving our brothers and sisters in need. There but for the Grace of God go I. This is grass roots support at it's most basic level. Go PADS!!!!!!!!
During my time volunteering I had the opportunity to help and connect with those less fortunate that I am. Specifically, I met a young girl who had somewhat of a tragic upbringing. She was open and candid about some of her traumatic experiences. From this meeting between she and I was place in a humbling place. First, because she felt comfortable enough to share intimate details about her life with a perfect stranger, and two, because I knew that it could have easily been me in her shoes. Overall, my experience volunteering with PADS was life changing.
I wanted to find a place to voluteer, one of my finds recommended PADS at New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson. This have been one of the most rewarding experience for me. To be able to help someone as less fortune than myself. It feels so good that God has use me as a instrument to give back and to Love. To see the smile on our guest just with a soft encouraging word or just a hello is reflection of God LOVE for me. I just want to say God thank you for this opportunity! Gwendolyn Pinkney
I volunteer monthly (4th Thursday) at my mom's church with a group of phenomenal women to feed and set-up overnight shelter for the homeless. We work together to let them know they are not alone and to encourage them in a time of transition back to permanent housing. It feels so good to bring the food for dinner, cook and serve these people of need in our community. I have been doing this for over two years and plan to continue the great efforts of this PADS program.
PADS is performing a wonderful service in the south suburbs by collaborating with churches to provide shelter and and related service to the homeless. I find my volunteer work to be very satisfying and proud to be a part of this effort that encompasses numerous churches from many denominations working to address this need.
It is refreshing and rewarding to have the opportunity to help others. PADS provides volunteers with the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of others. Every task, great or small, makes a difference. Working 1st shift allows us time to sit with the residents and eat and talk. We all are able to share something from our experiences that not only encourage and uplift them but also that encourage and uplift the volunteers. Working 2nd shift give the residents the security in knowing that they can get a good night's rest because the volunteers are looking out for their safety. These are priceless acts that make a huge difference. I love PADS. I love the program and the staff.
I have had the pleasure of serving with the south suburban PADS for over 15 years. The comraderie among the volunteers has enriched my life with friendships and the joy of serving together. I am always amazed at the diversity among the guests and it has completely changed the way I view the homeless population.There are of course the stereotypical individuals who wrestle with alcoholism, drugs, and mental illness, but their humanity and value surpass their condition. I have had some deep, thought provoking conversations with the guys over the years and I look forward to the sundays that I serve. The"regulars" are considerate and protective of the volunteers and they are heartfelt in expressing their gratitude. PADS has allowed me to feel blessed, even as I am a blessing to others.
I have volunteered for PADS but this is the first year I am acting as the site manager for our parish's PADS program .It is a very rewarding experience to assist the homeless with food, shelter and fellowship. It is very edifying to see so many from the parish working together to make it all happen each week. I always invite those providing the evening meal to stay and enjoy a meal with me and our guests. Our pastor often joins us as we pray together and enjoy each other's company. It is a wonderful way to practice the corporal works of mercy.
As a volunteer with PADS, 4th winter season now, I find that the services offered continue to grow. Insuring that our guests have a shelter nightly is a goal; as it is hard enough to make it to a shelter, and knowing where you will lay your head is one less chore. Having multiple sites in a certain radius is a great idea! The Sock-it-to-Me program, insuring that guests have clean, 'dry' socks in the winter really touched my heart, as we take these things for granted when we open a drawer filled with socks! Toiletry bags, bag lunches, TVs at the site, showers, the PAD itself, are all creature comforts needed to help one stay hopeful that tomorrow is a new day and change comes with hope. I have enjoyed my volunteer tenure with PADS, and this year I recruited 20+ new volunteers to form add'l teams - we plan to stay as long as we're needed. - M. White
I am a board member and a volunteer. It is the joy of my life to see the men and women who would otherwise be without housing, without food and without clothing come into our shelters. We have also bought into the notion that to end homelessness we must put people in a home. to that end we will shortly provide housing for 77 families. I have never been around such dedicated and committed staff, board and volunteers. There is something about being a part of good works.
As a social worker, relative of a person in need of shelter and volunteer I have had three experiences with South Suburban PADS. In past years I have referred many clients in my professional work there, at one point in time sent one of my own relatives there, and over the past few years have volunteered at a site my church hosts. Having gotten to know several of the individuals we host at our site has enriched my own life, and that of my adult children (who also volunteer). Two of my adult children lost jobs during this down turn in our economy and their involvement in SS PADS not only gave helped diminish their "pity, poor me attitudes" but gave them the chances to hear the stories of others who have fallen on difficult times. Also, South Suburban PADS has been an exemplary organization in meeting the many needs of those who are challenged by mental illness. Having a family member with mental illness has made me "ultra-aware" of services that are available and SS PADS does a really good job with these individuals, coming directly to a site to meet with them and assisting in overseeing other services for them. The counselors have been professional, compassionate individuals!
I feel great giving back to my community. As a cancer survivor, I am truly grateful to God for sparing my life, so whatever I can do to help someone else, I am going to do just that. As a volunteer of PADS, I feel that I am making a difference in a life, just by listening to our homeless guest and when I bring candy each week, their faces light up.
We have had many encounters with South Suburban PADS over many years. We have prepared and served meals, volunteered in the shelters, volunteered in the office, donated countless socks, tee shirts, sheet sets, blankets, toiletry items, games and school supplies. Every experience has been a far greater gift to us than it was to the clients we helped. The staff is friendly and professional, I suppose the best review is that we continue to support SS PADS in any way we can. It is always a surprise to see the number of young adults who have found themselves in this position. Many are educated but lack family support to allow them to get on their feet after graduation, especially with school loans. Many work, but cannot afford to live on their own.
South Suburban PADS is an inter-faith program providing shelter and supportive services to homeless persons. As a volunteer I feel valued and my time is used wisely and has an impact. Most importantly I see the program has significant impact on many of the homeless persons lives. Policies and procedures are effectivly communicated to the volunteers & guests. The program and sites are run professionally and organized. Guests are treated with dignity and commpassion within all levels of the organization. I've seen countless woman and children arrive at the shelter with no resources and no plan for the future. As the weeks go by I see these same woman getting jobs, entering into educational programs, and securing housing for their family. Words can not express what it's like to have a six year old child enthusiastically tell you that he moving into his own house. PADS has made a significant impact on the lives of many in our community & I am honored to be a volunteer.
I have been a volunteer for the last two years with South Suburban Pads. We work the second and fifth Mondays of the month. First I buy all the groceries needed for dinner, lunch and some of the breakfast foods. That evening I help serve the foods or hand out clothing or toiletries. I've gotten to know some of these men, I see them daily as I go about my errands around town. Many have just had a number of bad breaks with no where to turn. Some have been in horrible accidents. Some may not have the mental capcacity to live on their own. I see them look out for one another, I see their caring and concern. I see how much their interaction with us means, I see their smiles and the need for conversation. I know how much the nurse, the social workers and all of us mean to these fellas. It's more than a hot meal and a place to sleep. I hear their" thank you." One man said," You are spoiling us!" For me, it feels so good to give back, our family has been very fortunate. I enjoy my work and time with these men, as do the other volunteers. Pads is a great organization.
Volunteering for South Suburban PADS has been a wonderful and rewarding experience for me. I started volunteering for the summer shelter one night a month in May of last year to give myself something to do. I have no regrets. To be there to listen and help in any way to make the people more comfortable in there stay for the night blesses me as well as myself being a blessing to them.
I started volunteering at the PADS day site in Chicago Heights about 10 years ago. It was early into the experience when I knew I would be around for a long time. The homeless have given much more back to me in these past 10 years than I could ever have imagined. My job is simple. I spend a few hours once a week in the morning checking people into the day site before the offices open at 9am. The people are so appreciative of the little bit that I do for them. It humbles me to see their graditude for something that seems so minor to me. But they are always thankful. I have come to appreciate the struggles that the homeless encounter as well as the obstacles that the employees at PADS deal with day to day. The issues involved in homelessness are complicated and neverending. The employees persevere although sometimes even I feel defeated just sitting in as a volunteer. The needs are overwhelming and neverending. The employees continue to chisel away at all the issues the homeless face. Have I seen succcess stories? Absolutely! But I think the greatness comes from the employees who despite all odds never seem to give up on a group of people who really need them.
I truly enjoy working for PADS. I work at two different sites. One in winter and a different church for the summer. PADS allows us to use our expertise to help not only the guests we supply shelter but also the churches that serve as shelters. They offer a full program. They don't try to enable people to remain homelss. They offer hope and help. They have a dependency, apartment, job training and life training programs.
Over the past several years, my wife and I have volunteered for SOUTH SUBURBAN PADS at the United Christian Church in Country Club Hills. We volunteer for the 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift on the second Wednesday of each month from October through April. We are very comfortable with the approach taken by the church (which we do not attend) toward the clients. The program is well managed, and we feel appreciated for our efforts.
After four years as a PADS volunteer, I have learned that the clients depend on us for three meals and for a place to sleep for a night. That in itself, doesn't seem like a big deal, but for many of the clinets, we become a friendly face who says hello, how are you doing, and cheer when we hear a client say, " I'm finally going to get a home, so you won't see me here next time." PADS offer counseling to help our clients get stability and find a job. Recently, a client passed away and the word spread to all, and I even saw his name in a prayer book at a retreat house I was visiting. PADS offers a community for those who travel the miles to find a place to sleep and eat each night and get to know each other. Many clients come and go, and I know that helping at PADS is a way to keep myself in touch with the reality that homelessness can happen to anyone at any time. It makes me grateful for the life with which I am blessed, and the friends I have that also work PADS for those who haven't found the blessings I have.
The South Suburban PADS offers shelter and food to homeless men, women and children. Without their help, these people and families would go hungry and suffer from inclement weather.
PADS is an organized and fun place to volunteer. I've been volunteering October through April for approx. 5 years. I miss it during the summer months and can't wait to return.
My sons belong to Boy Scout Troop 729. I have helped my boys serve meals to the homeless at the shelter. They also assisted with getting the pads ready for the people. I think it is wonderful for my boys and myself to try and help others in any way we can.
Amazing experience for my entire family. My husband and 2 oldest children worked with PADS for many years, until the birth of my 2 youngest children. My boys grew so much from the experience. They got to listen to the men (guests) at the site and learned so much from that time in their lives. We brought friends with to help that became a part of the volunteer network also. The guests were so appreciative of the volunteers- it was an awesome feeling to be a part of the program.