The smell of latex paint wafted Saturday morning from the basement of the McHenry County Public Action to Deliver Shelter Day Center for the homeless.
As part of its annual Lend a Hand Day event, current classmates and alumni of Leadership Greater McHenry County lent a lot of hands, as well as paintbrushes, hammers and nails to improve the site west of Woodstock. And where PADS had only a storage room that had to be kept constantly locked to protect clients’ possessions, it will shortly become a media, arts and crafts room, complete with 48 homemade lockers.
About 30 current and former LGMC classmates and their family members contributed their time, board member Kate Halma said. The group, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary with its current class, exists to foster and develop community leaders by offering one-year programs that offer leadership training and information about how to get involved with area nonprofits.
Its alumni network boasts more than 300 members.
“This is great space [PADS] will be able to use that they couldn’t before,” Halma said.
The PADS day center exists mostly for case management and counseling, but can serve as an emergency shelter for up to 14 people. During the cold-weather months of October through the end of April, a network of local churches open their doors as PADS shelters on a nightly rotating basis. The day center last year helped 258 people, just under half of whom required space in the emergency shelter, and the churches helped 219 people, according to PADS statistics.
Lend a Hand Day in past years has involved volunteers spreading out to do community work at several locations simultaneously. But the decision was made last year to focus solely on one project, which LGMC did by improving the New Horizons shelter for homeless veterans in Hebron.
Last year’s volunteer day was the first for recent LGMC graduate Jack Bechaud, who runs The Social (Net)worker, a social media consultation company, out of his Marengo home. He said that event and the work at PADS gives him and his classmates a sense of community and helping others.
“There’s such a need to shine light on the homeless,” Bechaud said.
Lloyd’s Paint and Paper donated the paint, while Woodstock Lumber gave LGMC a discount on the wood for the lockers, Halma said. She said she likes the fact that spouses and children of LGMC members come along to get involved.
“It’s great to teach the kids to give back. Every year, people always bring kids,” Halma said.