Somewhere in this community, before each new regular shelter season begins, a variety of unassuming people file into a room, pick up a folder and sit down. At first glance they have the familiar faces of neighbors, family, fellow church members and friends – but they are in fact superheroes.
As the round tables begin to fill, and people sign in and greet one another, it becomes clear that this group has a singular purpose. They come to gather forces for another year of leadership on the front lines of homelessness. The job of a Housing Forward PADS Emergency Shelter Site Captain requires more than a superhero costume and secret identity – although a cape is optional.
The right person for this volunteer position needs the skills and confidence to lead the volunteer staffing for their monthly shift (in coordination with Housing Forward's Volunteer and Outreach staff) plus interact with clients and oversee everything that happens during their time at the shelter.
Most site captains take on this special role one night a month but many cover more than one – sometimes even moving between rotating shelter sites in Oak Park, Forest Park and Berwyn. They know when to follow the rules and when to bend them slightly. They know the clients by name, and dread the nights when there are more in need than pads to assign. Many site captains have returned again and again over many years and are fierce loyalty to their teams. They are a quiet collection of community members who show up and do the challenging, hands-on work of helping those among us who are in need. It’s not too late to join the team for this season. Housing Forward has a few more spots to fill.
If you think you might have what it takes to transform yourself from mild-mannered person into a super-human Site Captain, or if you just want to know more, fill out a volunteer profile form and our Volunteer Coordinator will contact you for a more in depth discussion or to schedule a time for orientation and training.
Photo caption: Housing Forward PADS Emergency Shelter Site Captains gathered at Grace Episcopal Church for the 2018-19 training meeting.