Fortitude exists to ease the burden of poverty and homelessness. It began in January, 2017 as a homeless street outreach, providing needed items while building relationships within the homeless community. Within these trusted relationships, we are able to help connect them to local resources in efforts to move them into permanent housing and/or more sustainable living situations.
Fortitude’s original program, the street outreach is designed to meet physical, social, and spiritual needs of the needy and homeless. Teams of volunteers (and anyone 12 or older is welcome to volunteer!) bring items to a static site by Graham’s Furniture in Kankakee and the Route 50 Motel in Bourbonnais every Thursday night. There, volunteers pass out needed items and food while also socializing with our guests. For many, our interaction with them is one of the few times they are welcomed by name, treated with respect, and given caring human touch or a hug. These outreach interactions are the “first contacts” with individuals, with many relationships leading to connections with other agencies and services that can move them out of desperate situations.
A new program to Fortitude is the First Thursday Meal Program, which offers a hot meal concurrent with the street outreaches at Annunciation Greek Church in Kankakee. Following the street outreach model of relationship-building, volunteers make a point to sit and dine with guests, socializing together. Hot soup provided by the Chatterbox Cafe in Bradley is always served, as well as hot sandwiches donated by different individuals or groups each month. Also served are chips, dessert, hot cocoa, coffee, juice, and water. Guests also leave with a cold sandwich and snack bags for later.
We are currently in the process of collaborating with Olivet Nazarene University’s nursing department to offer free health screenings to guests of the meal program!
PADS stands for Public Action to Deliver Shelter and is a model of sheltering used highly successfully throughout the Chicago suburbs. Most PADS shelters utilize a rotating site model, where 7 or more sites rotate to provide a shelter site on different days of a week.
Fortitude will be opening a PADS shelter for the winter of 2018! The shelter program is currently in the planning stage, but is proposed to follow this model:
Significant funds are needed to operate a shelter! Volunteer opportunities will open up this fall, but you can support the shelter now! Please consider becoming a financial partner in the Fortitude Shelter Program.