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From A Veteran SOS Leader ‘s Perspective

October 7, 2009

Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hello again to our readers of the Sleep Out Saturday 2009 blog!

This week will feature our first interview of four, and we know it will provide you with some great insight into what Sleep Out Saturday is all about. A big thank you goes out to Sandra Hill, from the First Church of Lombard, for taking the time to speak with us. Here’s what she had to say!

Sandra, why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I am The Outreach Coordinator for First Church of Lombard, United Church of Christ. My various roles include the coordination of The Outreach House – Home to Walk in Ministry and First Things First Infant Needs Outreach, the monthly Mobile Food Truck from Northern Illinois Food Pantry, The Community Table, and PADS. My role is to expand and encourage the numerous volunteer opportunities for our congregation and our community. I am also responsible for maintaining and fostering the relationships our Wider Church Committee has, including, but not limited to, Elmhurst College, Community Renewal Society, Lifelink, Interfaith House as well as our friends at Bridge Communities!

Wow! Sounds like you’re pretty busy. It’s great to know that someone’s doing all this great work! What then is unique to you about Sleep Out Saturday…what really drew you in the first time around?
Sleep Out Saturday is a perfect example of “walking in another person’s shoes”. It provides a wonderful opportunity to teach and to experience the issues of homelessness our brothers and sisters face on a daily basis.

What sort of activities do you have planned for this year?
We plan on doing a “Scavenger Hunt of Social Services” type of activity. Our participants this year will be given a 24-hour bus pass and a list of places to find that a person who is in need of assistance might need to locate. Such as: Department of Human Services, DuPage County Health Department, Food Pantries, PADS site for shelter, PADS Day Site, and so on.

That’s a really neat idea, Sandra! Do you have any suggestions for activities that new, first time group leaders can use?
We have an activity that we used last year to illustrate the need for a safety net and to also demonstrate how fragile relationships can be. After a lengthy conversation of the need to identify those in your safety net (other than school friends) and why you might need a safety net, we handed out rolls of toilet paper and ask our participants to write the names of people on each square. We used toilet paper to demonstrate how fragile safety nets can be and the need to have more than one or two people you could turn to if in need. We hung these around the sanctuary the next morning to encourage conversations with participants and those attending service.

That sounds like a great activitiy! As you may have experienced your first time around, new group leaders might have some concerns going into their first SOS. Anything you can think of that would help them out?
We always run the risk of planning too much or not planning enough. Bridge provides us with a tremendous amount of invaluable resources…Use them! Plan from them! But, be flexible and go with where the group needs to go when experiencing this event.

Lastly, Sandra, this year’s theme is HOPE. What does that mean to you?
As a community social worker, my professional life is to work with others and advocate. As a person of faith, it is my calling to help others…both with the hope that one person’s actions can bring about change and hope for a better tomorrow.

Thank you, Sandra. Your answers have been terrific and you really were such a great help!
It was my pleasure and my honor. I really look forward to this year’s event, and I can’t wait to continue my work helping others find HOPE.

Feel free to comment on anything Sandra has talked about, and discuss this with others on the blog. Come back next week for another great interview, this time with a high-schooler who’s making the difference!

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