Oak Park church adds shelter for disadvantaged

New shelter starting Sundays after April 8

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By Tom Holmes

St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Oak Park has answered a call for help from Housing Forward, a nonprofit based in Maywood that provides services to the disadvantaged. 

In January Lynda Schueler, Housing Forward's executive director, issued an emergency bulletin to stakeholders in the organization's PADS homeless shelter.

"I'm reaching out to you all about the increasing numbers of people in need of our shelter services," Schueler said, adding that the number of homeless people being turned away has more than doubled since this time last year. Then, she credited the increase to a flood of single moms with children arriving at the sites. Schueler said the number of families with children is up by 70 people and that families are staying twice has long as they used to.

But, on Feb. 19 she relayed that St. Christopher's will begin hosting an additional shelter on Sunday nights, starting April 8. 

That good news, however, spawned another urgent call.  Housing Forward needs to recruit and train at least 50 volunteers by April 8.  At a minimum, the new site will need eight site captains, 50 volunteers (working in teams of 12-15 per week and divided among the shifts) and 12 meals groups to function.

Housing Forward held the first of three training sessions on March 3. The next two will be at St. Christopher's, 545 S. East Ave. in Oak Park, on Thursday, March 15 and Saturday, March 31.  Contact Tonisha Daniel—tdaniel@housing forward.org or 708-338-1724 ext. 220—for more information or to attend a training.

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