When we moved into our new office in Oak Park to be able to serve more people, we thought about how we not only wanted to explore the best use of our new space (all 3200 sq. ft.,) but that we really wanted the office to be professional and inviting. We also hoped that we could create an environment that helped those who came there feel a sense of sanctuary and hope.
In October of 1992, First United Church of Oak Park was one of seven congregations that opened their doors as a PADS Shelter site in response to the growing need for temporary shelter for those in our community. That year we provided food and shelter to 244 homeless individuals from the community. In 2016, we helped 472 people with 13,565 nights of shelter.
Since 2005, First United has also provided the office space for the Prevail Program services as the community’s compassionate advocate for those neighbors facing financial crisis and seeking a path to stability.
More than ten years ago, Frank and Mary Pellegrini began volunteering with St. Giles Parish for the dinner shift at First United Methodist Church PADS Shelter site. They both grew up in the Oak Park and Forest Park area and believed it was important to be involved in their local community. Between their adventures of raising 2 children and now 3 grandchildren, Frank’s cooking passion and a biking trip to Spain, Frank and Mary have managed to run two successful businesses- Prairie Title and Pellegrini & Cristiano.
So why does BMO Harris support Housing Forward? “We take a long-term view of our responsibility to the community, doing what we can to help non-profits like Housing Forward, who are doing life-changing work on the ground,” says Alma Velasquez, Vice President of Community Affairs at BMO Harris. Cross got involved with Housing Forward because she has a strong belief that every person deserves a home. “Housing Forward’s mission is inspiring, their results are impactful, and the strides they continue to make in our communities is powerful.
At the 19th Annual Have-a-Heart Gala, our guests heard from Latasha about how she and her children became homeless. Here is their story.
On Saturday, October 22, detective skills were necessary when the Associate Board of Housing Forward presented: “Mystery and Mayhem- a Roaring ‘20s themed crime-solving event to end homelessness.” Held at Untitled in Chicago, the event featured an exciting afternoon of interaction with a professional cast from a popular dinner theater company. Guests got the chance to solve a comedic case just like a detective, and some were even pulled into the play themselves.
Please join us for these upcoming events to benefit Housing Forward.
Fair Oaks Market, Saturday October 15 at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Oak Park from 10am - 4pm. A variety of homemade items, baked goods and other wares will be on sale for this fundraiser. 20% of proceeds will benefit Housing Forward and the Fair Oaks Church 2017 Senior High Mission Trip.
Please mark your calendar to join us at Untitled in Chicago for a Roaring '20s themed night to solve the crime of the century! Something is going down at the juice joint and we need you to find out who’s on the level and who’s on the lam by trading clues with attendees, gathering information, and solving the crime before the guilty one hotfoots it out of there!
On Monday, April 18, Housing Forward welcomed almost 200 guests at the Annual Progressive Dinner to help those in the community that are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
The event, now in its 14th year, was hosted in three locations in Oak Park, Winberie's, Maya Del Sol and the Oak Park Township Senior Center, and included donations from Buzz Cafe, Cucina Paradiso, Garland Flowers, Eli's Cheesecake Factory and sponsored by corporate partner, BMO Harris Bank.
Volunteering has always been a part of Gale Zemel’s life. In her 35-years in Oak Park, Gale has been giving back to the community by helping Housing Forward for the last 10. Her work in Housing Forward’s Support Center in Maywood has transformed a once cluttered space of boxes of weekly donations into a well-organized and accessible clothing closet. It almost feels as if you are walking into a clothing store as everything is clearly labeled and arranged according to size.