Thank you to the 1,500 wonderful people who on November 3rd made a statement about homelessness by sleeping out in tents, boxes and cars to raise awareness of the growing problem of homeless families. Sleep Out Saturday is sponsored by Bridge Communities, the largest provider of transitional housing in DuPage County, serving 100 families each year.
People from faith-based, community, corporate and family groups braved a cold night and experienced homelessness firsthand. I slept outside in my car with my grandson Nathan and granddaughter Olivia, while their younger siblings Claire and Ashley stayed indoors with their parents in a simulation of a homeless shelter. Our church, Good Shepherd in Naperville, made sure we were all safe with security patrolling at intervals during the night and a door to the building open should we need a warm up. How different it is for the true homeless who endure the cold night without warming places and welcome mugs of cocoa.
After a service of reflection, muffins and coffee, we all returned to our warm homes. For me and my family and our 1500 fellow “sleepers,” it was over. Not so for the real homeless. Just another cold day waiting for the next homeless shelter to open, another night in the car or, if lucky enough, a night on a friend’s couch or in a cheap motel room.
Homelessness in DuPage County is a hidden epidemic. If a family is lucky, they will shuffle from house to house of family members and friends, as the parents try to work and the children try to keep up in school. Often, a family will sleep in their car or bounce night after night through temporary shelters. There are an estimated 48,000 homeless people in DuPage County, with the majority of those being children. Surprising to many, the average age of a homeless person in DuPage is just 8 years old.
Bridge Communities is so thankful of all those who took part in Sleep Out Saturday, all the generous corporate sponsors and the kindness and generosity of the donors who supported their friends and loved ones as we slept outside on that cold November night. Our theme this year was “Imagine.” For one night, we did imagine no possessions; we imagined a life of fear and uncertainty. And as the song says, “We hope someday you’ll join us.”
Last weekend, 1,500 people took responsibility for the homeless, imagined what it would be like and did something about it. Thank you again!
You can learn more about Bridge Communities and Sleep Out Saturday at www.bridgecommunities.org.
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