November 7, 2014

Sleep Out Saturday

The real estate market crashed in 2009, and the Heller family decided to move out to Naperville to get back on their feet and start a new life in hopes for better opportunities.

They would have never imagined that in just a matter of months, this move would take a turn for the worse. The Heller’s began to live paycheck to paycheck and in no time, they were being evicted from their home.

“I would spend more time just standing at my kids doorway with tears in my eyes wondering where they are going to sleep, where they are going to sleep in the future, what’s going to happen?” said Henry Heller, Bridge Communities Client.

And right when they were just about ready to lose faith, a close friend of theirs told them about Bridge Communities, a local not-for-profit that supports families that are struggling financially.

The Heller’s were fortunate enough to qualify for assistance and were provided housing, mentoring and even secured jobs through Bridge Communities. Now they continue sharing their message of why the organizations largest annual fundraiser, Sleep Out Saturday, is so important to the community.

“They help over 100 families in DuPage County, just like ours, and it’s not possible without the support of the people who participate in sleep out Saturday,” said Yvonne Heller, Bridge Communities Client.

The event has recently marked its 11th year turning one night of experiencing homeless into changing the lives of many…

“We just love the impact it has on our students because it gets them to think of homelessness in new ways because they don’t always think about homelessness affecting Naperville,” said Tory Russell, Coordinator for Sleep Out Saturday.

Five different church groups around Naperville were gathered in boxes, bundled up in sleeping bags and huddled around campfires.

With temperatures hitting below 30 degrees overnight, many of the participants realized that this is everyday life for many across DuPage County.

“I saw icicles this morning, pretty frosty night, it makes you really feel a lot more appreciative of your warm home and your bed which you take for granted,” said Larry Birks, Participant at Sleep Out Saturday.

“I took out that being homeless is hard they have it so much harder than we do and it’s really humbling to do this experience,” said a Participant at Sleep Out Saturday, Parker Abriell.

The night represents a glimpse into reality for the nearly 625 residents per night that seek shelter from the elements in DuPage County, and for the Heller family, months that they can attest to.

“It can absolutely happen to you because it happened to us,” said Yvonne Heller.

With the support and awareness that Bridge Communities has brought through this event, the Heller family now has a place to call home.

“I am very, very grateful to Bridge Communities, because not only did they save my marriage. Not only did they save my family. Honestly they saved my life,” said Henry Heller.


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