The power of community was at work during last week's record-setting, life-threatening temperatures. With all public buildings closed on Wednesday and the lingering snap of freezing temperatures on Thursday, 66 men and women, with no place to go, were safe thanks to the combined efforts of the community we share.
Two congregations – Oak Park Temple and Grace Episcopal Church opened their doors continuously during the course of three days serving as both a warming center and hosting their regular PADS shelter night. A caravan of minivans and Prius cars with blinkers flashing formed a line to safely receive and transport Housing Forward clients, and all their belongings, between locations in the wee hours of the morning.
Calls and emails came flooding in, responding to social media blasts, asking, "How can I help?" Baked goods, power bars, bottled water, blankets, Dunkin' Donut gift cards, transportation passes, hand warmers, board games, and winter clothing came pouring in. Congregational staff made everyone feel "at home," volunteers prepared and served lunch, youth organizations collected supplies – no one went hungry, cold or unsheltered.
Thursday evening the Cook County Health and Hospitals System arrived at Oak Park Temple with a van and shuttle to transport clients for the last chaperoned trip to the PADS Shelter at First United Methodist Church. After 67 hours, the seamless overnight shelter and warming center coverage and the polar vortex of 2019 was over.
We the staff THANK YOU SINCERELY on behalf of our grateful clients who were on the receiving end of all this community's effort, generosity, and kindness.
Executive Director, Housing Forward