Big thank you to Adrienne for sharing her personal footage for this project!
Dear Ms. Meghan Powell-Filler and Mr. Eric Foote -
I never thought I’d be in a situation where I would wind up on the streets not knowing where my next meal would come from, or where I’d be sleeping that night, but it happened to me on April 3rd, 2020. I was freezing and hungry sleeping under a playground play area in a park along the banks of Gages Lake, feeling helpless and in despair. Not only that, a worldwide health crisis was about to hit Lake County.
After a few restless days and nights struggling to survive, a kindhearted neighbor came out to offer me a warm meal and a phone number and address to an organization in Lake County called PADS. I was reluctant to even think I needed help, but I decided it was either freeze to death or ask for help. I chose the latter and found my way to 1800 Grand in Waukegan and reluctantly went inside. Once inside, I was given a personal information intake, offered some food and given a voucher to a motel to have a warm room, a hot shower—and a real bed to sleep in.
Over the next 3 months during COVID-19 PADS not only kept me alive, PADS kept me safe from a virus that was spreading and killing thousands of people in Illinois during that time period. For that I will be forever grateful to PADS and the case workers for looking after me.
I would especially like to thank a few people in the PADS organization who went over the top. First and foremost I’d like to thank Allyce and Latasha, my caseworkers, who not only offered hope through their daily words of encouragement on the phone and in person, but also provided me with hope for my future.
Working with Latasha I was able to build my self-esteem back up and face each day with a positive outlook when all looked bleak. Latasha used all the resources available to also secure me my very own apartment. That’s right. My own apartment. I still can’t believe it. I now am not homeless, nor am I hungry. I have a bright future to look forward to. Thank you, Latasha! Thank you. Thank you.
I’d also like to thank Somya, my health care case worker, for getting me to doctor for the first time in over 15 years for a check-up. I’d been mentally afraid to go get checked out in fear for the worst. Somya provided the words of wisdom to allow me to overcome my fears of medical care.
To those who weekly delivered food and PPE supplies to us at the motel, and the staff at the Rodeway Inn who took great care of me, I survived three months through COVID and homelessness with dignity and a sense of pride.
Many who think PADS is nothing more than a place where the homeless hang out, they are sorely mistaken. PADS provided me with a chance to start fresh and look to each day as a blessing.
Thank you, PADS, you are a beacon of hope for those who seek you out for help when no one else did. I am truly overwhelmed you took me in and saved my life. I will never forget what you did for me.
After COVID-19 is a distant memory, I can’t wait to give Latasha a big, gigantic hug.
Sincerely and forever,