PADS Lake County is a community-based organization that provides trauma-informed support, resources, and shelter to individuals and families experiencing a housing crisis.

If the history of PADS Lake County could be shrunk down and encapsulated within one phrase, it would undoubtedly be the quintessentially representative quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Gandhi seemed to get it as he visualizes history as something that is both past, present and future. A looking back at history should always be married to a forging of the future.

PADS was founded in 1972 as a 24-hour telephone crisis hotline. Little did we know at the time that this was merely the beginning. As the crisis telephone lines busied, so did the dedication of PADS’ leaders and staff. What they soon came to find out was that if the lives and futures of Lake County’s homeless was truly going to be changed, it required more than a switchboard.

Something more needed to be done. As a result of this timely observation of the great need within Lake County as well as the wise analysis that mere telephone lines couldn’t meet said need, PADS Plus Program was started in the early 1980’s that offered daytime shelter and supportive services.

Still, something more needed to be done. On Christmas Eve, 1987, PADS opened its first emergency overnight shelter program at Wesley Free Methodist Church in Waukegan, Illinois. This afforded the means to provided face to face crisis intervention. Modeled after Public Action to Deliver Shelter, PADS laid the groundwork that would serve as the foundation for future programs.

Still, something more needed to be done. PADS opened its Assessment Center in 1992 officially marking PADS as the entry point and first step for Lake County’s homeless rejoining their community. The Assessment Center was a success as PADS begin to see and meet the need of the growing number of homeless within Lake County.

Still, something more needed to be done. In 1998 PADS began its journey into year-round transitional housing with the establishing of the HELP Center (Habits for Effective Life Planning). This provided another path for moving people from homelessness and/or substance abuse to sobriety, permanent housing and stability.

Today, as the only 24/7 emergency shelter system in Lake County, PADS operates 14 emergency shelter sites, one fixed site (The Family Center), and supportive housing for homeless men (including veterans). PADS also provides a multiplicity of services with a vision and mission of placing all of Lake County’s homeless on a secure path to sustained independence.

Still, something more needs to be done. As Thomas Jefferson once quipped, so it rings true of PADS Lake County today, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”