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.
MEET THE FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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.