In 1988, life was good for some Americans. Gas cost 91 cents per gallon; eggs, 65 cents and a postage stamp, 24 cents.
But there were homeless people in the area, and an organization, BEDS Plus, stepped to help.
On Saturday, BEDS Plus will begin its 24th season of sheltering individuals facing the crisis of homelessness in the western suburbs. Operated by a dedicated staff and a large corps of volunteers that has offered decades-long support, BEDS Plus has helped steer thousands out of crises and back to stable, independent, and healthy lives.
BEDS Plus operates its nightly emergency shelters in seven community churches that serve two dozen western Cook and Du Page County municipalities. In Western Springs, , 4300 Howard, is the site for the local BEDS facility.
For years, BEDS Plus has been more than an emergency shelter. Its Support Center now operates Monday through Friday, offering a significantly expanded curriculum in addition to a nutritious lunch.
Health care services, support groups, employment readiness training, benefit linkage and GED readiness classes will be offered. A nurse, certified addictions counselor, mental health counselor, and a representative from Hines VA will be on staff to meet individual specific areas of need.
“BEDS takes a holistic approach,” said BEDS Plus Executive Director Molly Salisbury. “We strive to provide a robust menu of services to help people escape homelessness.” This year the Support Center will also offer classes in yoga and photography, both led by professional volunteers.
The effects of the poor economy on homeless individuals have been felt in the loss of “re-entry” jobs such as labor and construction, food service or retail, Salisbury said. Cuts in mental health services, addictions treatment and health care for uninsured all combine to challenge the conduit to stability for many clients.
“Whatever the challenges we may face, we are optimistic and confident that we can continue to guide those seeking our help, out of the terrible crisis of homelessness,” Salisbury said.
For more information, go to bedsonline.org