Church volunteers look forward to helping homeless in Clarendon Hills
Kari Wagner signs up Sunday at Christian Church of Clarendon Hills as part of a group volunteering to cook, serve food and chaperone for two nights in January at a DuPage PADS shelter for the homeless. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:31AM
CLARENDON HILLS — Joseph Bourn has never forgotten the first time he showed up to work a volunteer shift at a DuPage PADS shelter.
DuPage PADS helps the homeless in a variety of ways, including the operation of shelters at which those in need can eat dinner and have a place to sleep for the night.
Bourn is part of a group from the Reaching Beyond Ourselves ministry at Christian Church of Clarendon Hills. Members of the ministry have donated their time for two nights in January each of the past eight years at the PADS shelter at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove.
“When I showed up that first time, a volunteer thought I was there because I needed a place to sleep,” Bourn said. “It really struck me that you can’t tell a person’s circumstances or situation by their appearance. I have found out over the years that for many people something just happened in their life that they didn’t expect.”
Bourn hasn’t stopped returning as a volunteer since his first experience. And he’ll be part of a group of about 15 from Christian Church of Clarendon Hills who will cook, serve dinner and chaperone for the homeless who come to the PADS shelter overnight Jan. 14-15 and Jan. 21-22.
“I have continued because in my career I’ve had some situations of success, but also some where I haven’t,” Bourn said. “My hope is that through a friendly face, the people I meet will get encouragement.”
Kim Brown, the community service ministry leader at Christ Church of Clarendon Hills, coordinates the church’s volunteer effort for DuPage PADS. She said Bourn is a perfect example of someone who understands the importance or providing help to those in need.
“It’s one thing to make a donation, and that also is very important,” she said. “But to hand a plate of food to someone who otherwise might not have anything to eat — nothing compares to that.”
Just as Bourn had an experience emphasizing that becoming homeless can happen to anyone, Brown had a similar moment when she looked up one night to see an old acquaintance who was there because she was homeless.
“It’s important to understand that these are real people, not nameless faces,” Brown said. “They have real stories and families, and they deserve respect.”
Sharon Palladino signed up Sunday at Christian Church of Clarendon Hills as a first-time volunteer to help at DuPage PADS.
“I’m new to the area and wanted to find something to get involved in, and I have a heart for people in bad situations” she said.