With the shelter season already underway, the Kendall County Public Action to Deliver Shelters (PADS) is still seeking nearly 100 volunteers to fill their 600-person quota.
Volunteers sign-up to work just a single four-hour shift, once a month, six times a year. The duties including checking in and checking on guests at one of PADS seven different site locations. The sites are open now through April.
PADS Executive Director Anne Engelhardt said that while approximately 75 percent of volunteers return each year to help keep the shelter running, the need for an additional 100 or so volunteers is an annual challenge.
“We have seven or eight nights a month right now with no full team,” she said. “If we don’t have enough volunteers we have to shut down on those nights. We call that a checkerboard program and it’s very unreliable to people using the shelter.”
Up to 20 people can use a PADS shelter each evening from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning. Guests are provided with shelter, food and a safe haven for the evening. Rotating sites include churches in Oswego, Plano, Yorkville and Montgomery.
Without enough volunteers, however, Englehardt said there will be evenings when the sites could be forced to close. But, thanks to word of mouth, and the positive experiences volunteers share with others, this problem hasn’t been an issue over the shelters last six seasons.
“Every year we always have a need for volunteers, but it always gets taken care of,” Engelhardt said. She said volunteers grow to appreciate the experiences that their selfless actions create.
“I think the volunteers have a better understanding of homelessness after their opportunity to work in the shelter program,” she said. “They get a chance to meet people who are homeless who are no different than they are. We all have the same basic needs for food and shelter and for someone else to take care of us. Some of us just don’t have that in our lives.”
Volunteer duties include checking-in guest and doing walkthroughs every 20 minutes overnight while they are sleeping. Volunteers make sandwiches and prepare breakfast, depending on which of the three, four-hour shifts for which they are registered.
“It’s not hard work,” Englehardt said. “The guest population is typically very grateful to be there and are overall very kind and appreciative of our volunteers.”
The shifts that need to most positions filled at the PADS shelters are the second and third shifts on Sunday and Wednesday evenings.
Volunteers either work from 10:45 p.m. to 3 a.m. or from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.
“We’re looking for people who are willing to put themselves second to give to others in need,” Engelhardt said.
For more information on how to volunteer and get involved, visit http://kendallcountypads.org/ or call Engelhardt at (630) 553-5073.
— Kendall shelters put out the call for volunteers —