PADS: An insider's look at our longtime involvement
|Oh, is that my alarm? It’s 4:15 a.m.! Yea, we serve at PADS today. I certainly don’t get up this early for anything else.
When I arrive at PADS before 5 a.m., a lot has already happened in the last 10 hours before my arrival. Often I receive text messages before I arrive that prepare me for what to expect. Perhaps there has been an unruly guest who required a police call. It’s not unusual to have someone taken to the hospital. Recently, we found out that a guest had died two evenings earlier.Helping to End Homelessness
PADS stand for Public Action to Deliver Shelter. It is a volunteer, nonprofit organization with the mission to end homelessness in DuPage County. Every night of the week there are three sites serving the county’s homeless. College Church serves there every other month and is one of manychurches involved.
A typical night for College Church volunteers begins at 5:30 p.m. when they arrive and make up 50 beds that are divided between the men’s and women’s sleeping areas. Volunteers also assemble the lunch bags that the guests receive the next morning as they leave the site and then serve the guests a hot dinner at 7 p.m.
After the guests settle down for the evening, two men from College Church keep watch from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., followed by two more who take the 2–5 a.m. shift. Sometimes those who work the quiet hours of the night shift get to share the hope they have in Chris with any sleepless guests.
Rise and Shine
From 5–6 a.m., we prepare a hot and healthy breakfast, and by 6 a.m. we turn on the lights in the one large room and serve breakfast. As the guests wake up, the students and I are reminded that lack of privacy is something the homeless live with each day. As they move through the serving line, some guests are friendly and express appreciation; others don’t say anything and simply point to the food.
Around 6:30 a.m. while the guests finish eating, we begin pulling the bed linens to be laundered, stacking the pillows and blankets and washing the sleeping mats.
By 7 a.m., the guests have picked up their lunches and are on theirway. Our team cleans the bathrooms and vacuums the floors, andthen we debrief. What did we observe? Who shared their stories with us? How did we see God this morning?
Something for everyone
We begin the morning with a rule of “no complaining” and soon learn that there is joy in serving! Guests like seeing the optimism of kids and their smiles.
There is a role for everyone to serve at PADS: providing food or paper goods, setting up beds and serving dinner, spending the night, serving breakfast or cleaning up afterwards. Check out www.dupagepads.org to learn more about PADS. Watch for announcementsin Connections about upcoming PADS opportunities.
And as you think about serving, consider what God’s Word says:
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in the land.’” Dt. 15:11
“Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” Prov. 14:21
While the needs of people who are homeless are obvious—clean clothes, a hot shower, a job or mended relationships—we cover up our needs with nice clothes, success and so-called perfect relationships. But the truth is that we are all poor and needy sinners, sinners in need of God’s grace, sinners who can serve each other.