History of PADS

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History of PADS

Our Vision…
To end homelessness in McHenry County one person at a time.

Our Mission…
To reconnect homeless men, women, and children with the community by providing emergency, transitional, and preventive services and to raise public understanding regarding homelessness in McHenry County.

About PADS

As a program of Pioneer Center for Human Services, PADS is a charitable 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide emergency, transitional and preventative measures for the homeless of McHenry County.


In 1987 people from the McHenry County faith community became concerned about homeless people they had observed living in automobiles under bridges and viaducts, and in wooded areas in the county during the cold winter months.

Aurora, IL had a PADS program that had been operating for few years. A representative from Aurora was asked if they would come to a meeting in McHenry County to explain their program. At the same time county churches were invited to send a church representative and discuss what could be done to improve the conditions under which homeless people were living.

At the conclusion of the meeting seven churches offered to discuss with their respective congregations the possibility of their church becoming a homeless shelter one night per week from October 1 through April 30.

These seven congregations agreed to open their doors at 7:00 p.m., provide dinner, have a warm place to sleep the night, give the homeless guests breakfast, and send them on their way at 7:00 a.m.

Blankets, sheets, mattresses, supplies for cooking and providing meals, volunteers and staff were all provided by the church. Each congregation continued this work with the homeless as part of their mission as a church.

A volunteer Board of Trustees was established to coordinate and oversee the program. Not-for profit 501 (C) (3) status was approved by the Federal Internal Revenue Service. There were no paid employees for several years. Some small amounts of contributions from individuals were received and used to hire part-time social workers on a contract basis to assist homeless people with their problems.

Eventually, with fund received from individuals, churches, and foundation grants, the PADS Board of Trustees hired a part-time Executive Director. When income permitted, the part-time Executive Director’s status was converted to full-time.

In 1991 PADS added a transitional housing program. One, two, and sometimes three apartment units were rented and homeless people, usually families who were committed to working their way out of homelessness, were placed in them. This system worked reasonably well, but there was no provision for monitoring the people to be sure they were following their program. In 1997 this problem was solved when PADS received a government grant (CDBG) to help purchase a building in rural Woodstock, which had been used as a Summer Camp by a Chicago social agency. An around-the-clock staff is employed and with a capacity of 20 people the program helped many people get off of the homeless roles and become a contributing part of the community. This program is transitional since it is a route from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

In 1998 a transportation program was added to the PADS array of service offerings. Vans transport people to and from work, medical appointments, social services, and places where there is no public transportation available.

In 2002 PADS received a CDBG grant to help build a Day Services building where the PADS offices relocated along with four shelter rooms and space for conducting programs to help homeless people who live in McHenry County.

On June 1, 2003 the Day Services Center opened providing an array of services geared in helping people break the cycle of homelessness.

On December 28, 2006, McHenry County PADS merged with Pioneer Center for Human Services . This is the first non-profit merger in McHenry County. The merger has allowed for the reduction of administrative costs and a more efficient use of resources which can be partnered to provide additional services to benefit the clients we both serve.