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Illinois Valley Public Action to Deliver Shelter program director Terry Reints, along with site directors Stacey Palmer and Erin Sapp, serve lunch for the homeless. The shelter opened in 1991 and serves five counties.
NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
How you can help
PADS maintains an updated list of need items and in-kind donations. The list typically includes the following items: Paper plates, bowls and cups Plastic utensils Coffee, sugar, creamer Trash bags in 30 and 13 gallon Dry cereals Laundry soap Ziplock bags in gallon, quart, sandwich Cleaning products including glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, dish soap and vinegar Paper including copy, card stock Snack items for carry out lunches Adult underwear, socks, slippers
The number of homeless people seeking shelter in the Illinois Valley has steadily crept up in recent years, and the program’s director said she expects that trend to continue in 2013. Carol Alcorn, executive director of Illinois Valley PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter), said the shelter last season operated at 50 percent to 75 percent capacity — occasionally filling to the brim — and the census has steadily ticked up over time. She does not foresee a reversal in the coming season. “The economy has changed a little bit, but we’re still seeing joblessness, foreclosures and rents not being paid,” Alcorn said. “This year may show some improvement; but it’s hard to know.” Illinois Valley PADS will open its doors for service to the homeless and those in crisis at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1 at its locations in Peru and Ottawa. Shelters will remain open May 31, 2014. PADS, which serves La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties, last season assisted 280 individuals and 24 families (including 38 children) from September 2012 to May 2013. With help from local churches, volunteers and hospitals, PADS provided 17,101 meals. Another development noted in the 2012-13 season: The number of veterans using the shelters rose slightly to 23. Martin Rue, superintendent of the La Salle County Veterans Assistance Commission, observed that most of the area’s veteran homeless are transients who, during the fall months, will merely pass through the Illinois Valley area en route to Iowa City. “You will have a few select individuals who would rather live off the land and travel from state to state, but those are few and far between,” Rue allowed. “The majority of them are people without families to help them and who have mental health issues, but we cannot provide them institutional help with the structure they need. It’s unfortunate.” Besides food, shelter, and a place to shower and do laundry, PADS helps coordinate as-needed services medical care, transportation, and enrollment in available programs. The shelter has developed and taught educational classes in budgeting, employment and computer skills. There has been an increased activity and success in finding employment and understanding the value of that income in being able to sustain themselves in their own housing. “(PADS) is looking forward to making a support group program available within the shelter services this year as well as building additional space in the Ottawa shelter to house families while allowing them to remain together as a unit instead of separation by gender,” Alcorn said. “This addition will add 16 to 24 more beds to our program. Homeless families and individuals 18 years of age and older may contact PADS for more information at (815) 224-3047 or 433-1292. Volunteers are being sought to assist paid staff on all shifts. Alcorn said the greatest areas of need are late-night and early-morning shifts including 11 p.m.-3 a.m. and 3-7 a.m. “Volunteers are very important to us,” Alcorn emphasized. “They provide a great service in helping and assisting the program. We do have a training program. There will be a staff member for every hour we’re open to assist them and ensure they are not alone.” Interested volunteers are asked to apply through the PADS website: ivpads.com. Financial contributions may be directed through the website or to PADS, PO Box 1012, La Salle, IL 61301. In-kind contributions also are accepted in the form of food and household items. (See sidebar) Additional volunteers are needed for Lily Pads Resale Boutique, which has generated revenue for the shelter and is expanding this year.