Coordinating Meals & Providing Hope
Meet Loretta Foss PADS Shelter Site Food Coordinator
PADS Lake County is fortunate to have the support of over 3,000 incredible volunteers who make our work possible. We caught up with Loretta Foss, Food Coordinator at St. Mary of Vernon, to learn more about her experiences volunteering her time to support our neighbors experiencing homelessness.
What inspired you to become a PADS volunteer?
St. Mary of Vernon signed up to become an overnight site for PADS some 21 years ago. At that time our family was working with our own personal problem of homelessness with one member. Our loved one was able to get the help he needed but I felt I needed to do more
for others—so I signed up as a volunteer once PADS started up in October of that year. The following year, I accepted the role of Food Coordinator and have been covering all the
meals since then.
Please share a little about your experience with PADS.
Our homeless need our help every day of the year; holidays are no exception. Since our
day of coverage is every Thursday we always have Thanksgiving. Very early on my family
started covering this day so that other volunteers could stay home with their own families. It
is one of the most fulfilling days for us. Not only do we really enjoy working together but we
feel this is what this holiday is all about.
What is one thing that surprised you to learn about PADS?
Our site meets the basic needs of our homeless but PADS as an organization goes way
beyond being just a band-aid. PADS works with families and individuals to meet their long-term needs to end their homelessness. There is counseling, assistance in job search,
linking up to more permanent housing, and getting the education needed to improve their lives.
Could you share a memorable experience you had as a volunteer?
My latest memorable experience is very recent, during the winter vortex. Our church got the call to open early as a warming station. A few volunteers were able to get to the church within the hour and we got coffee and food going quickly. We took care of a bus full of our homeless for the day with food, beds, games, and movies. Working together to get through a day of subzero wind and cold (and frozen water pipes) really brought all of us together...guests and volunteers alike.
What do you do for fun outside of your volunteer role (most likely after shelter season!)?
The role of Food Coordinator is a year-round position. Our food stores and restaurants continue to donate so we spend several hours a week distributing our donations to various soup kitchens in Waukegan and Mount Saint Joseph in Lake Zurich. On a more personal note I love to spend time with my granddaughters and my mom. I also enjoy vegetable gardening, making jams and jellies and canning.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I just want to let everyone know that I really enjoy working with everyone at PADS.
Thank you so much, Loretta, for all that you do for our neighbors! Interested in joining Loretta and our other fantastic volunteers in their mission to support folks experiencing homelessness in Lake County? Check out our volunteer opportunities!
Do you have a suggestion for our Volunteer Spotlight series? Send their name, email, and 1-2 sentences about why you think they should be featured to firstname.lastname@example.org.