Check to health department
Kendall PADS closes for good, transfers funds to health department
After several years of providing meals, shelter, and social services to the area’s unhoused community, Kendall County PADS has decided to dissolve the nonprofit homeless support organization.
Citing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the shutdown of its PADS sites in March 2020, as well as the absence of a permanent facility to provide temporary shelter in the county, the board of directors recently voted unanimously to transfer $100,000 to the Kendall County Health Department.
“Thank you very much,” said RaeAnn VanGundy, executive director of the department, following the vote. “We’re honored to serve this population. It is a blessing.”
Since 2010, PADS had been providing food and overnight housing at its seven shelters, each of which were open one night of the week between mid-October and mid-April.
But when the coronavirus crisis struck 26 months ago, the limitations of the PADS sites, located at six churches and a Christian school, became more apparent.
Public health guidelines such as social distancing could not be followed in sometimes tight housing quarters. And volunteers, many of whom are seniors, were concerned about health risks.
So the PADS board voted to close the shelters in March 2020, and again to keep them shuttered, in August 2021. Transportation was provided to escort homeless clients to the Daybreak Center in Joliet.
Moreover, law enforcement personnel has continued to transport those needing shelter to Hesed House in Aurora, county undersheriff Bobby Richardson told the board.
But most of the gap in homeless services has been filled by the Kendall County Health Department, which received federal relief funding to house clients in area motels and assign them to social workers from the Community Action agency of Kendall and Grundy counties.
Eleven people remained in the motels as of last March while others received housing vouchers to move into permanent places, VanGundy said.
“COVID had a silver lining because we were able to get them all in one place,” she asserted. “They felt normal, they felt dignified, and they were future-focused.”
Previously, those seeking shelter in the sprawling county had to either drive their own vehicles, or use private transit, to travel to and from each of PADS’ seven sites, often spending their in-between time at fast-food restaurants, the Oswego and Yorkville public libraries, and designated warming centers such as the Montgomery Village Hall.
Every year the homeless support group needed to recruit more than 500 volunteers, most of whom served once or twice per month, to staff the seven overnight shelters, working four-hour shifts.
“The volunteers were in the right time and place to serve people living in homelessness,” said Anne Engelhardt, executive director of Kendall County PADS.
For the past two years, a handful of those volunteers has been preparing and serving meals once per month at Daybreak. One of them, PADS treasurer Kathy Farren, said there are plans to continue to serve a monthly meal at the Joliet shelter.
She also stated that PADS’ outstanding bills will be paid out of $7,700 that was held back from the transfer of funds, and any amount remaining, plus any future donations, will be forwarded to the health department.
The PADS board voted to close out its treasury by July 31, 2022, and the nonprofit organization to be dissolved under federal tax law.
Anyone wishing to donate or learn more about the health department’s homeless assistance services can visit their website at kendallhealth.org.
Kendall County PADS was founded in the fall of 2010 when seven houses of worship opened its doors to the homeless.
They are United Methodist Church of Plano; Harvest New Beginnings in Oswego; Church of the Good Shepherd in Oswego; St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in unincorporated Boulder Hill; Trinity United Methodist Church in Yorkville; Cross Lutheran Church in Yorkville; and Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ.
In October 2017, Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville replaced United Methodist Church of Plano as one of the sites.
During PADS’ ten shelter seasons, there were a total of 528 guests, 12,397 overnight stays, and 37,498 meals served, Engelhardt stated.
Barb Johnson is a founding member of PADS who served as assistant director for guest services, in addition to site coordinator at Cross Lutheran Church in Yorkville.
“It was a good run,” she told her fellow board members. “We made people aware of the problem of homelessness in Kendall County.”
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