Above / DuPagePads purchased and now operates a 130-unit Interim Housing Center (IHC) using a repurposed hotel in Downers Grove, Ill. (Photo courtesy Chad Pedigo taken on the longest night of 2023)
Homelessness is nothing new around here. This community has been addressing the need to provide shelter and food for individuals and families in need longer than the 31 years we’ve lived here.
However, early today for the first time we were made aware of Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Since 1990, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, has been set aside to remember homeless individuals who passed away.
A national gathering called “One Life, Too Many. Another Year, Too Long” was planned this afternoon by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council with a Zoom call for anyone to follow. We wish we’d known earlier.
Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is observed with prayers, candles, moments of silence and the reading of names on the first day of winter which also is the longest night of the year, falling between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23.
“The winter months pose extreme hardships for DuPage County citizens who are without homes. December 21, the winter solstice, is the longest night of the year,” wrote Chad Pedigo, Vice President of Development, in a message from DuPagePads. “Together with shelter providers across our country, DuPage Pads will recognize this evening as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, in remembrance of those who have passed away within the homeless community.”
During the evening of Dec. 21, the DuPagePads board and staff will join together, pause, and light a candle to remember their neighbors who have lost their lives this year in DuPage County.
“We will continue to honor the lives and memory of those we have lost by working to provide solutions to end homelessness in DuPage County.” Pedigo wrote.
360 Youth Services also honored those individuals who have died while experiencing homelessness in the past year, inviting supporters to join their remembrance. Perhaps light a candle in honor of the lives lost or volunteer with 360 Youth Services or another organization, suggested Development Director Brea Hayes.
360 Youth Services also welcomes donations to ensure young people always have a safe and warm place to stay, Hayes emailed.
DuPage Pads since 1985
Founded in 1985, DuPagePads creates life-changing support services and housing opportunities with a mission to end homelessness in DuPage County, Illinois. Signature year-round programs feed and shelter individuals and families who are homeless, connect them to case management and other services that can address the underlying cause of their homelessness.
DuPagePads has taken the next important step toward expanding our capabilities to keep families and individuals safely sheltered while ending their homelessness. The nonprofit business purchased and now operates a 130-unit Interim Housing Center (IHC) using a repurposed hotel in Downers Grove, Ill., where Emergency Housing has been provided since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The significant client successes, improved health and safety features for client families, and enhanced access to supportive services have been undeniable, making the IHC “the greatest investment” in their mission to end homelessness.
360 Youth Services since 1971
In 1971, 360 Youth Services began when a group of concerned parents, community, and religious leaders recognized the need for professional, youth-centered services in Naperville, Aurora, and the surrounding community.
It’s mission is to provide life-changing services to youth through substance use prevention education, counseling and housing.
Hesed House since 1981
Established in 1981, Hesed House is located on South River Street in Aurora. The word “Hesed” is from biblical Hebrew and describes God’s unconditional and everlasting love.
It’s mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and give people the chance to hope again—one person, one family at a time.
Hesed House is the second-largest homeless shelter in the State of Illinois, and the largest shelter outside of the city of Chicago. Newly homeless families and individuals arrive every day, and professional staff work to help them move back into independent living while meeting their unique needs.
For information, visit www.hesedhouse.org.
Homelessness on the rise
Reports say homelessness is increasing. The recent Annual Homeless Assessment Report, published December 2023, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development is a real eye-opener.
“On a single night in 2023, roughly 653,100 people – or about 20 of every 10,000 people in the United States – were experiencing homelessness,” the report says under “Key Findings” on page iii. “Six in ten people were experiencing sheltered homelessness—that is, in an emergency shelter (ES), transitional housing (TH), or safe haven (SH) program—while the remaining four in ten were experiencing unsheltered homelessness in places not meant for human habitation.”
While touring the community, brightened by sparkling holiday light displays, consider the darkness that some less fortunate families are experiencing with homelessness.
In the spirit of the season, offer hope and prayers for solutions, support if possible, that they’ll find their way to self-sufficiency, good health and housing soon.
Information for this story was provided by today’s contacts as well as websites and past experiences. Thanks for reading. —Stephanie Penick