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The Two Seasons of PADS

  
  
  
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“I cannot believe summer is over already!” Around this time of year that phrase is echoed throughout schools, businesses, playgrounds, golf courses and swimming pools all over Lake County. For many it means vacation season is over. For others it means school is back is session. While for others it means “outside time” is coming to end; bring on cabin fever.

For us here at PADS that phrase carries with it the freight of many in need. Those within the PADS community will tell you that here at PADS there are really only two seasons: Summer (May-September) and Shelter (October-April). While the need of the homeless community is great during the summer months (i.e. heat, rain, hunger, protection from bugs etc.), it seems that no matter how great the summer need, the “shelter” season seems to always surpass. So, for instance, during the summer months the average number of clients per night is around 40. During the shelter season that number can well surpass 100 clients per night.

So when PADS hears, “I cannot believe the summer is over already”, what we are really hearing is, “it is time to gear up for the shelter season.”  It is time to join hands with our partners, volunteers, donors and employees and together, for an entire season, ensure that the homeless of Lake County are not forgotten. To ensure that the homeless women, children, veterans and families of Lake County not only have a place, but have a path: a path to a self-sufficient future.

So as the days get shorter, our compassion gets longer. As darkness comes earlier, the lights of our hearts stay bright with hope. As cabin fever sets in, so does our perseverance to help as many people as possible have a “cabin” of their own.

During the last shelter season PADS, with your help, was able to help 205 families, 431 children, 365 women and 96 veterans.  As we enter this new shelter season, please consider joining PADS once more as we, together, make many individuals’ future as beautiful as the leaves in Fall and as bright as the fresh snow in Winter.









Passing the Baton!

  
  
  
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There is nothing like a heart-pounding, adrenaline rushing, down to the last 15 meters type of relay race. To me, the last leg of any relay race is the best. They call this the "anchor leg". The anchor leg is responsible for making up ground on the race-leader or preserving the lead already secured by their teammates.

People are Good

  
  
  

Many of you have probably heard about the woman in Arlington Heights who had all her belongings destroyed by an arsonist.  This woman, who was experiencing homelessness, lost everything she owned - all her possessions were gone because of the disgraceful actions of a criminal. 

Audrey's Story

  
  
  
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On this blog, we are trying to share different experiences from our staff that work here.  This article comes from Audrey Carman, our Grants Manager, who is starting her eleventh year here at PADS.

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A Year Within the Life of PADS

  
  
  
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Two weeks ago I celebrated my one year anniversary of being an employee of PADS. Anniversary, that's a interesting word to use. Webster defines anniversary as, "the annual recurance of a date marking a notable event." It seems the key word within that definition is "notable". I mean, who celebrates the one year anniversary of stubbing a toe. "Hey honey, today is the day! One year ago I stubbed my toe. Do you remember that?" On the contrary, "notable" implies something of significance, something that sticks out like a diamond on a black surface, something that, regardless of our "forgetfulness", can't help but to be remembered. So sit back (not too far, especially if you are in one of those chairs that is prone to tip over), relax (not too much, especially if you are at work while reading this) and let me take you on my journey. Grab my virtual hand and follow me into the nonprofit flux capacitor as we travel a year within my life at PADS.

Week One: The Five Senses
    Sight: First day on the job I couldn't help but to see the lack of "modernity" within the offices at PADS. Old chairs, three piece desks of which none of the pieces matched the other and paintings on the walls akin Downton Abbey. Yet, I saw a sense of joy. I would quickly come to find out that PADS didn't value materialism, they valued true value. That is to say, all of who they were, all of what they had went directly to helping just one more client see their inherent value despite their circumstances.
    Sound: Answering the phone and hearing, "I just lost my job, have no place to go, can you help?" Walking down the hall hearing the pitter patter of little feet, not playing in their own room, but in a homeless shelter. Hearing the voice in my own head say, "Stephen, dont' become deaf to the need. Keep listening."
    Smell: Soap, laundry detergent, shampoo. Indeed, these were not the smells my nostrils anticipated yet were present. Basic human amenities I take for granted on a daily basis required a sign up sheet becasue the need was so great.
    Touch: Day four on the job helping a homeless vet move. I remember reaching out for a hand shake yet he pulling me in for a shake to hug combo (you know what I'm talking about). Feeling the wrinkles on his hand thinking, "these hands have served this country." Feeling the worn, hand-me down clothes thinking, "how did he get from Dress Blue to these?" A million thoughts/feelings with one touch
    Taste: Sitting at the front desk and one of our clients asking ME did I want a piece of his candy. The thought: he who doesn't have much is willing to share with me who wastes much. From this gesture and ensueing conversation, it was clear that this client was not taking advantage of the "system", but simply a man who fell on hard times and one who truly understood the value of a...starburst. It never tasted so sweet!  

Week Fourteen: Ignorance is not bliss
You know, that moment you find out that zero is NOT the lowest number on the numberline and there are negative numbers and wonder why in the world your teachers haven't told you this sooner. You know, that moment you find out that Trix are not really JUST for kids and they had no reason to treat that rabbit that way. These are moments when you say, "ignorance is not bliss." We are people who desire knowledge. When we find out things that we "should have" known sooner, we feel a bit robbed? This was exactly my thinking when, after growing up in Vernon Hills and Libertyville, I was completly unaware of the homeless population right in my back yard. I mean, for heaven's sake, this is Lake County, right! Surely if there is a county that is immune to homelessness, it is this county, right? After working with PADS for fourteen weeks, wow, I couldn't have been more wrong. "You mean to tell me that over 50% of the homeless population in Lake County are children??" Again, I felt robbed. One more thing to add to the "ignorance is not bliss" list. Except, this particular item on the list is highlighted, bold, italicized and underlined.  

Week Twenty-Seven: "It's A Wonderful Life"
I am convinced there is not a person alive that can follow the life of George Bailey without shedding a tear or two. Even though he thought his life was meaningless, Clarence would soon prove otherwise as he shows what life would be like without him.
But that is fiction, right? I beg to differ! My first Christmas season at PADS proved otherwise. I came to meet real life George Baileys, those who give so much to so many without asking for anything in return. I met the George Baileys of our partner churches, I met the George Baileys of our volunteers, I met the George Baileys of our in-kind and monetary donors. And I came to realize that PADS wouldn't be the same without them.
    
Week Fifty-two: Marathon, not a sprint
365 days, 1934 clients, 275 families, 581 children, 590 women and 155 veterans later and I have made it. But the question is, made it where? My friends who have completed marathons tell me that the last few miles are the hardest. You have come so far, done so much, exerted so much energy, feel like you have given all. Yet, a few miles remain. Notice I said my friends who have "completed" marathons. Though they felt like they were running on empty, you never know what your back-up tank can do until you empty the first. You never know the resources in the reserves unless you hit the reserves.
Week Fifty-two obvervation: helping the homeless is not a sprint, but a marathon. A give it your all, glorious, vulnerable, exciting, exhausting, hitting a wall yet breaking through the wall, almost to the finish line type of marathon.



















Meet Christen White of the Family Center

  
  
  
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Christen White has joined the PADS Team as our Family Center Program Manager.  We are very excited to have her on board.  In an effort to get to know her a little better, we have asked her 10 Questions - let's see what she had to say...

An Assist in the Pursuit of Happiness

  
  
  
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Tomorrow is the Fourth of July.  On this day, we remember that here in the United States of America, we have “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

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Mother's Day- More Than A Day

  
  
  
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Next Sunday, May 12, is Mother’s Day.  This will actually be the 99th anniversary of the official Mother’s Day holiday, which was first proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson on May 9, 1914.

The concept of a holiday honoring mother’s had existed long before that date.  But the campaign to have an official Mother’s Day was led by a woman named Anna Jarvis.  Anna’s mother Ann was the founder of the “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs.”  These clubs worked to improve sanitary and health conditions in major cities.  They also treated soldiers in the Civil War, on both sides, with neutrality.  They demonstrated compassion to others.

Today, we take one day out of the year to recognize what our mothers have done for us.  We can certainly do more – there’s no doubt about that.  But one of the ways we can honor our mothers is to live our lives in a way that exemplifies the compassion and love that they instilled in us.

I look at the many mothers that have touched my life.  From my own mom to my mother-in-law, grandmothers to close family friends, and certainly to my wife, the mother of our son.  I am so blessed to have such wonderful mothers in my life.  And I think about the selfless way they live their lives – giving so much to raise me, my family, my friends, and my son.

Next Saturday night is our SleepOut for Shelter – where we give one night to sleep outside in an effort to make sure that others do not need to.  We will wake up on the morning of Mother’s Day.  If I think about the selfless way the mothers in my life have already lived, I want to show that same compassion to others that they have instilled in me.  It is a very small way to honor them.

I will be celebrating Mother’s Day on May 12.  But I am also going to remember the love, values, and compassion for others that all the mothers in my life have demonstrated for me.  And I am going to try and exemplify that throughout the year.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!













REturn, REfund, REstore

  
  
  
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April 15 is a day that holds great historical importance.  It is the day that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947; the day McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in 1955; the day  former Cubs Jeromy Burnitz and Milton Bradley were born – although neither one of them lasted very long with the team…

However, April 15 is perhaps best known for being TAX DAY.  The day by which we must all submit our tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. It can be quite entertaining to watch people scramble as the clock approaches midnight, rushing to their local post office to ensure they beat the deadline…entertaining, that is, unless you are part of that rush.

Lately, we have seen a few commercials on television about the big refunds people can get.  We see people with a huge smile on their face as they talk about what they are going to do with this money.  And it got me thinking…what good can we do with this money?

I completed my taxes using a computer program.  Near the end, it asked me if I’d like to donate part of my refund to a charity.  What a great idea!  I could accept my refund and get the smile as they do on the commercials… and then get an even bigger smile on my face as I gave some of it away. When I get my refund, I am going to make a donation to PADS.

This year, as you complete your returns and receive your refunds, join me by donating a portion of your refund to PADS and let’s see just how big our smile can get. You can make a secure donation on our website at www.padslakecounty.org.  And remember – that donation is tax-deductible, so your refund (and smile) might be even larger next year.  Most importantly - I can guarantee that the homeless families, children, women, and men we serve will have smiles on their faces that are way too big to measure.









Women's History Month!

  
  
  

Driving into work this morning, mind preoccupied by the anticipation of the "snow-pocalypse" that is supposed to hit any moment, I heard something on news radio that, like a top of the line snow-blower, completely blew the thoughts of snow away. March is Women's History Month. A time that we as a nation get the joy and privilege of celebrating the generations of women whose lives have proved invaluable to us all. In other words, we get 31 days to rejoice in the fact that the world is not just populated by men (is 31 days enough?).

The godfather of soul (if you don't know who that is shame should be overwhelming you right now causing your eyes to fill up with tears to the point that it is making it hard to read this blog) anticipated this month when he sang with all his "soul":
    
    This is a man's world, this is a man's world
    But it would be NOTHIN, NOTHIN without a woman or a girl

Did you catch that: two "nothin's". The world would not only be "nothin" without women, but the world would be "nothin nothin" without women. The women of our past, present and future are a testament to that.

In honor of this time of celebration, a number of sites offer great resources which I found helpful. The following links are good for a cursory, lunchtime reading:

The Women's History Month has its own site dedicated to sharing the lives of women who have made a considerable impact on society.

A year-round resource is the National Women's History Musuem. The banners on the home page made up of quotes and pictures are enough by themselves to make the web page worthwhile.

Who doesn't like going to Wikipedia for a quick reference? Their article on this month is short and sweet yet gives enough background that has you longing for more.

Every year National Women's History month gives a theme. In 2010 it was "Writing Women Back into History". 2011 reminded us that "Our History is Our Strength." In light of the importance placed upon education, 2012 gave us the theme of "Women's Education--Women's Empowerment." You want to know the 2013 theme? click here

For the individuals who have a longer lunch break, check out History.com's informative coverage. They present a more thorough, far reaching outline of what this month means.

You need not go back in time to celebrate this month. If you are not a history "buff", why not celebrate the women in your history. Grab your wife, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother or aunt and let them know that even though they may never make the history books, their contribution to your life will forever be written upon the pages of your history.

Allow me to leave you with the words of Evita Peron (if you don't know who that is, what better month to find out):

"I have one thing that counts, and that is my heart; it burns in my soul, it aches in my flesh, and it ignites my nerves: that is my love for all people."    

Have a Happy Women's History Month!
























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