PADS Lake County opens new site
By Judy Masterson email@example.com @JudyReport October 13, 2013 4:45PM
A poster advertising PADS Lake County, established in 1972, greets visitors at the agency's new year-round family center, located in a Gurnee apartment building.| Judy Masterson/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2013 6:10AM
The relocation of the PADS Lake County year-round family shelter got off to a rocky start after recovering addicts complained they were being displaced by the program.
But during a formal re-opening last Thursday, Virginia Edwards, who recently moved into the shelter with two teenage children, praised her new home — a three-story apartment building at 1280 Blackburn St., Gurnee.
“This is a very nice place,” Edwards said. “It beats the room I was in with 20 other people; we had a cubicle.”
Until last summer, the shelter was located inside the old St. Bart’s Catholic school on Waukegan’s south side. The new building, owned by Lake County Residential Development Corp., is the former site of a Catholic Charities-run rehab/transitional housing program for women. While the name of the recovery home is being retained — PADS Family Center at Mary Pat Maddex Place — in choosing PADS as its new program partner, LCRDC is refocusing on transitional housing. Men are allowed in PADS, which helps the federally-funded LCRDC meet fair housing requirements.
All but two of the women-headed families who had called the building home have left, assisted in finding other placements through Catholic Charities, according to Kate Van Crey, LCDRC program manager.
“It turned out to be a very good thing,” Van Crey said.
Edwards, 53, formerly of Park City, was an ER nurse for 19 years before she was fired three years ago for an alleged infraction.
“I spent my retirement, my life insurance, trying to keep our mobile home,” said Edwards, who turned to PADS last April.
First housed in emergency space at the agency’s headquarters in North Chicago, she worried about her 15-year-old daughter mixing with people with mental illness.
“I told my daughter ‘These people are odd,’” Edwards said. “She said ‘Mom. We’re odd.’ And I said ‘Yeah. But we’re the good kind of odd.”
The new location has nine mostly two-bedroom apartments that are more spacious than many on the market, according to Van Crey. Seven of the units are currently occupied. The building offers round-the-clock supervision and support. PADS is working with families to achieve independent, permanent housing within 6-8 months.
Dean Thompson, 37, who had nowhere to go after a fallout with the in-laws he had been staying with, said he and his wife have not revealed details of their bout of homelessness with their 7-year-old daughter. As far as the girl knows, her family has moved to a nicer place where she has her own room again.
“The environment here is 100 percent better,” said Thompson, who also moved from old St. Bart’s, where he shared two bathrooms with 28 people.
“It’s almost like home here,” Thompson said. “Of course we want to get on our own again. But PADS helps cushion your fall.”
A ribbon cutting at the new building, which features a large outdoor playground set inside a small, quiet apartment complex, was attended by board members of PADS, LCRDC and the 15-year-old Mary Pat Maddex Place, named for a late DCFS supervisor who saw that women in recovery often relapsed when they moved back to their old environments.
Barbara Maddex, a member of the MPMP advisory board, said her sister, “would be blown away, if she were here today, at the level of passion and commitment” of those who have worked to sustain Maddex’s vision of transitional housing, free from alcohol and drugs.
PADS Executive Director Joel Williams recalled Cathy Curran, the agency’s former longtime director, who died suddenly last December and who steered the opening of the county’s first year-round family shelter.
“I know that Cathy and Mary Pat would have been the best of friends,” Williams said.
“They had the same compassion for others.”