“When someone believes in you everything can change,” said DuPagePads’ President and CEO Carol Simler
That saying has guided Carol Simler for most of her life. Now, the President and CEO of DuPagePads hopes others can carry on that motto as she sets off for retirement.
Simler, who’s spent the last 23 years at DuPage Pads, 21 of those as President and CEO, said her retirement didn’t go the way she expected because of the COVID-19 pandemic; but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Certainly the last four months was not the way I thought I would ease into retirement, and yet I consider it a privilege to have led the agency through all this,” said Simler. “We’ve been successful in terms of the clients that we serve.”
Back in March, DuPagePads, a non-profit that aims to help the homeless by finding housing and offering support services closed its overnight shelters due to heath concerns surrounding coronavirus. Since then, the shelter has had to shift from its famous pads to hotel rooms to house their clients.
“We had 100 hotel rooms and we had 130 people in those hotel rooms,” said Simler. “We’re down to 80 [available] hotel rooms and two families and it’s our goal, hopefully by the end of July, to have all of those people into housing.”
Perhaps even more impressive: Simler says there have been zero 911 calls in that time. The reason why is simple.
“Support of our staff. They’re calling people every 48 hours, they were at the hotels on Fridays as it’s food delivery day, so we bring a week’s worth of groceries on Fridays,” said Simler. “And I think people really know that we care about them.”
Carol Simler & DuPagePads’ Accomplishments
That care for people, who are often times down on their luck, is what Simler takes the most pride in and it shows.
Since joining the nonprofit back in 1997, Simler has taken DuPagePads from providing shelter, to interim housing all year round, helping thousands of DuPage County residents and families.
Simler’s and DuPagePads’ efforts haven’t gone unnoticed as the nonprofit is now an award winning-agency.
Accolades aside, what Simler will remember and miss most are the people who’ve helped shape DuPagePads into what it is today.
“The people,” said Simler. “I will miss the people, and I’ll miss the community and the way I was active in the community. I still want to be active in the community, I’m not going to fold up and go away.”
It’s Been A Fun Journey
Simler’s journey won’t end in retirement, as she will continue to be an advocate for ending homelessness, a mission that’s brought many rewards.
“It’s been fun too,” said Simler. “Challenging, stressful, creative, but along the way it’s been fun. I wouldn’t even want to be a part of it if it wasn’t. And people say ‘well how can homelessness be fun?’ and I’m like ‘I don’t know’. When you see a person get that key to their front door. So when I can see those kinds of things happening it is fun along the way to be able to offer hope and opportunity to people.”
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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