A proposed Peru shelter expansion will add 58,000 square feet of space.
PERU - With fall quickly approaching, the IV PADS homeless shelters have opened for the season to serve the homeless of the Illinois Valley area.
Peru PADS, which has the capacity to house 24 individuals, opened its doors over Labor Day weekend. In Ottawa, the PADS shelter opened a couple weeks earlier on Aug. 15 due to an increased demand for services in recent years and a growing number of families seeking shelter. To accommodate the homeless students in these families, the shelter opened its doors in time for the start of the school year. Ottawa PADS has room to temporarily house 54 people.
Both shelters will remain open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. through the end of May. Anyone facing homelessness is encouraged to seek help with IV PADS.
Last season, IV PADS served 349 individuals including 58 children. In total, 31,106 meals were provided along with countless hours of case management. Carol Alcorn, executive director, anticipates another busy year. On opening day in Ottawa, 18 individuals registered at the shelter and within two weeks, the number increased to 42 individuals including 12 children.
Alcorn pointed out that some homeless individuals stay at the shelters for only a short time while others take a bit longer to get back on their feet. Since the shelter’s opening this year, one family and one individual have already located housing and seven people have secured employment.
Although the shelters are closed during the summer months, work does not stop for PADS staff members during that time. The staff continues to support, make referrals and provide transportation for those in need. The summer months also allow time for staff and numerous volunteers to prepare the buildings for a new season of serving. This summer was no exception with projects such as painting, prepping freezer meals, reorganizing inventory, deep cleaning and polishing floors needing to be done.
IV PADS expressed their appreciation to Covia (Fairmount and Unimin merger) for prepping frozen meals that will feed over 500 people, painting exterior and interior walls and decking, deep cleaning rooms and building yard games with donated materials from Golden Rule Lumber. In addition, young people from ActSix, a group from Taylor University, worked to clean, organize and prep walls for painting. Hope Week Community volunteers purchased paint for the Peru shelter and painted all walls, doors and lockers. Ottawa volunteers participated in painting eight rooms, which added color to the Ottawa shelter. The materials were donated by a Countryside Subdivision fundraiser.
While the shelters close for the summer, Lily Pads Resale Boutique in Peru and the brand-new Lily Pads Too in Ottawa both remain in operation all year long. Both resale stores provide direct assistance to the homeless and also earn income to assist the shelters. Shelves are stocked daily with donations from the communities. Donations are welcome at both Lily Pads locations, 4471 Progress Blvd., Peru and 411 E. Stevenson Road, Ottawa. Any individual or organization wishing to get involved in volunteer opportunities at IV PADS shelters or stores is highly encouraged to contact them at www.ivpads.com.
An expansion of the Peru PADS Shelter, “Expanding Our Space…Expanding Hope,” is the most immediate future goal for IV PADS. Currently, the shelter can house 24 clients in separated areas (male and female). Plans are for a 5,800-square-foot building addition that will add four family rooms, an enlarged classroom, expanded men’s and women’s beds, and children’s playroom as well as an expanded dining room and more bathrooms to better serve the area’s homeless.
Family rooms - Will keep family units that include a father and mother together when staying at PADS. Families with children are the fastest growing group of homeless people throughout the country and are also increasing in this area. Family rooms will improve the safety and privacy of the growing number of children residing at the shelter
Increased capacity - Peru has had a significant increase in the number of people served and the larger space will help accommodate any overflow from the Ottawa shelter. It will also provide enough space for additional laundry and restroom facilities to promote safety and health.
Classroom space - Classes on budgeting, life skills, computers, parenting and other topics will be available to an increased number of clients. The expansion will also offer a better space for support groups, Bible study groups and students doing homework or studying, and allow for expanded programs and classes in the future.
As IV PADS begins its 27th season, Alcorn believes there are positive indicators that this shelter year will be successful in helping people get back on their feet. “The economy is doing better so we are looking forward to experiencing more individuals finding employment and housing,” she explained. “The dedicated staff and volunteers are amazing and ready to assist those in need through our programs.”
Alcorn invites anyone in the communities served to consider volunteering at one of the IV PADS shelters or stores. To learn more about volunteering or to donate to the Peru expansion or operation of the shelters, visit www.ivpads.com. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 1012, LaSalle, IL 61301. For further information, contact Alcorn at (815) 224-3047.