Agency Goes beyond Sheltering Homeless

By Krishnamurthy, Madhu | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 3, 2003 | Go to article overview

Agency Goes beyond Sheltering Homeless


Krishnamurthy, Madhu, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Madhu Krishnamurthy Daily Herald Staff Writer

PADS Crisis Services, which operates emergency homeless shelters across Lake County, is redefining its role to provide more than just a roof overhead, food and hospitality for the homeless.

The agency is teaming up with Lake County Adult Learning Connection to start a new literacy program for its homeless clients, with daytime and evening classes daily.

PADS volunteers have been trained to tutor for basic literacy skills, such as reading, writing, spelling and mathematics, up to eighth grade level. The goal is to prepare shelter clients to pass a general education test.

"What's nice about it is they're able to do it here; we're not sending them somewhere else," PADS Executive Director Cathy Curran said. "Our goal is that some of those people will eventually become tutors for other clients here."

So far, volunteers are working with seven clients preparing for their GED exams.

Morning classes started a few weeks ago. They are 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Evening sessions, from 8 to 9, will begin in a week or so.

A majority of the classes will be scheduled at night to accommodate clients who work during the day. Instruction will be done through books and computer programs. Students will be taught language arts and asked to write essays.

"There's different components to it, and the tutors cover all the components," Curran said.

The idea is to make shelter clients more self-reliant. Many cannot read or write even to fill out application forms.

"If we can get them started on that road, it opens up a lot of other avenues," Curran said. "You try to make sure people learn how to become independent and learn how to become self-sufficient, and literacy is a major way."

Curran says literacy will help clients in all aspects of life and simplify tasks like shopping, driving and visiting the doctor.

Although the goal is to prepare clients for the GED exam, many are not ready for it, said Carol Morris, literacy project director at Waukegan Public Library, which is part of the Lake County Adult Learning Connection collaborative. …

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