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.