About Us

Fortitude began in January, 2017 as a street outreach designed to connect needy and homeless individuals with resources and assistance. Every Thursday night, a team of community volunteers brings food, hygiene, cold protection items, sweatshirts and coats,  and snacks to a location in Kankakee.  In 2019, Fortitude opened a rotating site PADS shelter for overnight, emergency sheltering from October-April.  Volunteers primarily staff the shelter and all volunteers attend a 2 hour training.

Fortitude serves from a trauma-informed perspective. Trauma-informed providers understand that needy and homeless individuals have experienced a great deal of trauma in their lives. It is difficult to trust others and challenging to reach out for help and navigate the difficult systems necessary to obtain real help. Many individuals have given up on the idea that they can live a better life. We understand that change occurs through relationships, so our first priority is always caring for the physical, social, and spiritual needs of our visitors, through which relationships are built.



Dr. Dawn Broers, PhD, LCSW has been a social worker in Kankakee County for over 2 decades and is the original founder of Fortitude Community Outreach.  She has worked in community mental health, school social work, and most recently as a social work professor at Olivet Nazarene University.  Dr. Broers holds a PhD in Social Work Policy Practice.  She maintains a part-time private practice at Keystone Counseling and teaches part-time at Olivet Nazarene University in the adult studies program and Walden University in their Masters of Social Work program.  Dr. Broers is the author of a social work textbook entitled “Social Work Policy Practice: Views from the Field”, a text written in collaboration with video producer Phil Gioja of Center Street Productions in Watseka.

Dr. Broers is married to Tom Broers and they have 4 children plus Zoe, a miniature labradoodle who is often spotted serving the homeless alongside her parents.

Our Board of Directors

Heather Oosterhoff, PhD, LCSW

Board chair

Dr. Oosterhoff has worked in community mental health and school social work in Kankakee County for decades.  She currently serves as the School Social Worker at St. Anne Grade School and St. Anne High School. 

Matt Hedding-Hess

board secretary

Matt is a tireless advocate for vulnerable populations.  He works as a counselor for individuals who have experienced sexual violence at KC-CASA and volunteers his time advocating for and with the LGBTQ community. 

Jack Tison

Board treasurer

Jack has served as Fortitude’s liaison with River Valley Christian Fellowship, one of our PADS shelter sites, and joined our Board in January, 2020.  Prior to his retirement, Jack was the Senior Vice President of Emerging Business for the Panduit Corporation. 

Marty Faye

Marty has been a faithful volunteer with Fortitude’s Street Outreach program before joining our board.  Marty is the Plant Manager at Plochman’s Mustard in Manteno, IL.  

Therese Schultz

Therese is a valued PADS shelter volunteer for Fortitude and is our most recent board member addition.  Therese was an elementary school teacher at Aquinas Catholic Academy for 28 years. 

Tom Broers

Tom is an original co-founder of Fortitude and a member of the Board of Directors since inception in 2018.  Tom is the Office Manager at Wellbuilt Equipment and International Scaffolding in Crete, IL. 

Dr. Dana Washington

Dr. Washington is the Director for Kankakee Workforce Services and an Adjunct Professional at Kankakee Community College. She received her B.A. in Business Administration, M.B.A. in Business Administration from Olivet Nazarene University, and her EdD in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University.  She has been active as a Kankakee District 111 School Board Member, in the Society for Human Resources, the Affirmative Action Cultural Diversity Committee, Kankakee County Renewed Opportunity and a consultant for marketing with several organizations.

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