Volunteers get a close-up look at homeless
Volunteers get ready to head out from the West Suburban PADS office in Maywood to help with a count of homeless people in the west suburban Cook County. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:38AM
Lori Wall saw a different side of homeless when she volunteered to help with a biannual count in suburban Cook County.
“This is the first year I’ve done this,” Wall said. “I wanted to get involved because it’s a grass-roots perspective. It’s very different being out there and seeing and talking to homeless people than it is when they come in to Hines.”
Volunteers went out in teams from 4 to 7 a.m. throughout the suburbs, including Western Springs, La Grange and Westchester. Wall was part of a group of about 20 volunteers who gathered at West Suburban PADS in Maywood, before heading out to gather information about the homeless.
Wall said she found the experience humbling.
“A lot of the people out there don’t want to talk about their situations and aren’t ready to ask for assistance,” she said.
Loren Seeger, program director for the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County, said the recent cold weather made it more difficult to find people who were not in shelters.
“People are more hidden in the suburbs; there are more open spaces,” Seeger said. “They usually try harder to find shelter when it’s cold.”
The count used to be done in the late evening, but was moved to morning when other people are less likely to be out.
“You get a sense of things, but you don’t always know for sure if someone is homeless when you approach them,” Seeger said.