I’m humbled when I walk through our daytime Support Center on the way to my office every morning. Most of the men, women and families who are here to meet with case managers, use computers, take a shower or do their laundry have spent the previous night sleeping en masse at a shelter site hosted by congregations in Oak Park, Forest Park, Berwyn or Franklin Park. They were greeted by volunteers, many who have been part of PADS’ shelter operations for years. They were served a dinner thoughtfully prepared by volunteers and were watched over as they slept by a crew of second-shift volunteers. They were awakened by volunteers who prepared and served breakfast while they cleaned up the shelter space together. As they left the shelter at sunrise, they were handed a sack lunch prepared by volunteers. Night after night, from mid-September to mid-May, a formidable network of PADS volunteers builds a safety net to catch those experiencing homelessness in your community.

 These gifts of time, treasure and shelter space make possible the first step for many in their transition from housing crisis to housing stability. West Suburban PADS has had another magnificent year of growth and impact. We’re helping more men, women and families transition back to stable housing — people who are unemployed or under-skilled, disabled by a chronic medical condition or struggling with their mental health, ALL of whom are experiencing a housing crisis. I’m thrilled to report that this past year there were 15 percent fewer people relying on our emergency shelter and 100 percent more participating in our supportive housing program. In addition, we engaged more than 100 people living on the streets and for extended periods in the shelter to help them connect to services and housing. As we turn the page on 2014, we want to express our gratitude for this community’s tremendous generosity and for enabling us to be there for those without a home this holiday season. It is on their behalf that we write this note of appreciation and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2015.

Lynda Schueler

Executive Director West Suburban PADS