DuPagePads is an organization committed to ending homelessness in DuPage County, Illinois. Founded in 1985, the agency focuses its efforts on creating a change in people's lives that will lead to self-sufficiency by providing interim and permanent housing to individuals and families in addition to supportive services. By providing resources that assist individuals in receiving life coaching as well as employment opportunities, DuPagePads helps to successfully put an end to the cycle of homelessness.
DuPagePads has been accredited with Standards for Excellence since 2009 and I recently had the opportunity of speaking with President and CEO, Carol Simler to learn more about the organization and the difference that it is making in the DuPage community.
Tell me a little about your organization's mission and how DuPagePads has grown since it was founded.
In the mid 80's people were being released from mental institutions with no plan for their future. The Homeless Needs Coalition recognized a need for shelter which just didn't exist at the time. So in 1985 our organization looked to congregations to open their doors in the evening to provide food and safety to those who needed it. We wanted this to be a philosophical change for people. Now we have over 4,000 volunteers and have served over 1,200 families. In a sense we are a folding motel, we move every night.
How do volunteers make an impact when working with your organization?
Our volunteers are the heart and soul of this organization in the fact that we operate from 7 pm every night to 7 am the next day. Volunteers start at 6 pm and work with our staff until 10 pm. Then, they will stay the rest of the night and in the morning make breakfast, make bagged lunches and restore the site. The volunteers have a tremendous impact.
Are there different ways for volunteers to get involved with your organization?
Yes there is definitely a variety of ways to get involved. The ideal situation is for us to have nightly volunteers, however, we have other areas such as our career solutions and development efforts where volunteers can help out as well.
Can you tell me more about your development efforts?
Of course, so we have four events a year such as our upcoming 5k/10k run in September as well as our Wake Up Your Spirit Breakfast where we will have Dan Hampton from the Chicago Cubs as a guest speaker. Then we also have a Taste of Hope Dinner where we feature samplings from over twenty-five high end restaurants. That is a really great event because it gives us the opportunity to bring the community out to enjoy some really great food. Then we also have a bowling event which is of course quite interesting and for that we go to the alley and fill all 30 lanes.
An outside look into your agency is very important and Standards for Excellence gave us that."
So, what was it that brought you to Standards for Excellence Institute?
An agency like ours wanted outside accreditation. We took it very seriously and completed the registration and then from there we really had to look at our policies and examine our organization. An outside look into your agency is very important and Standards for Excellence gave us that.
How do you feel your organization benefited from going through the accreditation process.
It played a huge role in us writing our policies. Just yesterday I gave an orientation for three new employees and used Standards for Excellence for guidance. It’s a process that I use for every new employee and board member, especially, because it helps them to understand the depth of being recognized and certified and how strongly our policies define our mission. This past year we have really been working towards being focused and accountable with new employees and emphasizing that importance.
Are there any recent achievements that you would like to highlight?
This past November, we put an end to chronic veteran homelessness and we are now continuing on with our mission to work with individuals and families. We also just recently had a Go-kart race fundraiser which was very intensive and lasted four hours, raising $35,000. We started these races six years ago and it's been incredible to see the professionalism and endurance of these eleven teams that each have about five to seven people.
I also think our board has really grown and changed. Our board is full of advocates who act as ambassadors out in the community. They are all so forward thinking and future-focused which is something that is just so great to see. We also have all of our intakes computerized now which allows us to analyze our data much more efficiently and spend more time engaging with the evening program.
To learn more about DuPagePads and how you can work with the agency to make a difference, visit their website at http://dupagepads.org/.