Homeless Shelters Crowd With Cold & Bad Economy

January 15, 2009

The following article was reported on Rockford’s News Channel 23 – WIFR on 1/14/2009

Weather like this makes us thankful to be indoors and that’s how area homeless are feeling as they crowd local shelters to escape the frigid cold.

“I appreciate it very much,” says one man checking into the Red Cross downtown Rockford shelter.

Appreciation is all the Red Cross needs in exchange for a hot meal and a warm bed and as the temperature plummets below zero, it’s a full house, with 49 people planning to stay at the overnight shelter on Cedar Street in downtown Rockford.

Several people said they didn’t even want to think about where they would be without this shelter.

“Underneath a bridge or making a fire down but the river or something,” says one overnight resident.

Another adds, “I really believe that God takes care of his children so I am thankful to him and to this place.”

And these days the cold isn’t the only thing driving people to area shelters. Red Cross volunteers say more people are coming in saying they’ve lost their jobs and can’t afford rent anymore.

“I hear more and more people say that they’ve never stayed in a shelter before. So it’s not the usual people that you would see,” says Red Cross Volunteer Nancy Burkett.

Betty Irelan falls in that category. Even though she struggles with diabetes, she says she’s been working since she was ten, but recently hit job troubles and has been unemployed since June.

“So I went like seven months without any money and finally the landlord got upset and evicted me last Friday,” says Irelan.

And even as more people are in need of help, it’s harder for the Red Cross to meet that need, because donations are down. They especially need warm socks and toiletries.

But workers say even when they fill up, they’ll never leave someone out in the cold.

“Everyone deserves to have a warm safe place to stay,” says Burkett.

I also spoke with a man who said he actually has a full time job, but he said he would still be out on the street without the Red Cross.

If you need help from the Red Cross, or you would like to make a donation, call 815-963-8471, or visit http://www.rockriver.redcross.org.

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Red Cross Shelter Work Shows ‘real need’ [from rrstar.com]

January 5, 2009

By Chris Green, Rockford Register Star

During the past four months, Dave Dinges has become quite familiar with the daily operations of the Cedar Street Red Cross Homeless Shelter and the vital role it plays in the community.

The Stenstrom General Contracting employee served as project manager of the agency’s recently completed $330,000 expansion and renovation project. However, Dinges said it was during the construction process when the project took on a special meaning for him. A woman looking to house a mother and her children mistook him as an employee of the shelter and made a request:

“This woman was looking for a place for them to stay,” he said. “That’s when I had my eyes opened to what the real need was here in Rockford – providing shelter to those who have no place to go.”

Dinges oversaw the completion of a 1,550-square-foot addition, which included a new heating and air-conditioning system, a larger dining and activity room, an area to prepare food, and plenty of storage space for donated clothing and supplies. More importantly, the former dining room was remodeled and has been designated to serve entire families, something Red Cross officials say they are encountering more of on a daily basis.

The shelter office also was expanded and equipped with new computers, filing cabinets and a one-on-one case management room.

Going the extra mile
However, Pat Ambrose, the shelter’s service coordinator, said she was most appreciative of the extra work provided by Dinges and his 16-year-old son, Eric.

When Dinges wasn’t on-site, he was in the community gathering thousands of dollars in donations, such as benches from Spider Manufacturing. The metal seats were installed in a newly created and heated waiting room.

He also gathered office furniture from Michaelsen Office Furniture in Machesney Park.

His son spent part of his Christmas break also in the community gathering donations from area businesses collecting 20 Rubbermaid large plastic tubs, most of which were filled with new bed linen, new socks and hats.

“They had this large storage space, and it was empty,” Eric said. “I just decided to go around and see if I could get someone to help fill it.”

‘A lot more room’
Richard Wooten, 42, and his fiancee, Kira Rhodes, and their 11-month-old daughter, Ameliana, have lived at the 48-bed shelter off and on for several months.

They said the expansion couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It’s not congested in here now,” Wooten said.

Rhodes added: “There’s a lot more room and privacy now. The problem I had before was getting (Ameliana) to go to sleep at night with all the noise. That’s been eliminated.”

Since its opening in 1995, the shelter has housed more than 6,600 individuals, and more than 1,500 people have found permanent housing with assistance from the Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Staff writer Chris Green can be reached at cgreen@rrstar.com or 815-987-1241.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Kira Rhodes and Richard Wooten stand with their 11-month-old daughter, Ameliana Rhodes-Wooten, in a family area where Rhodes and her daughter have been staying Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. The shelter policy is for men to sleep in the mens area, even if they are in the shelter with their family.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Kira Rhodes and Richard Wooten stand with their 11-month-old daughter, Ameliana Rhodes-Wooten, in a family area where Rhodes and her daughter have been staying Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. The shelter policy is for men to sleep in the men's area, even if they are in the shelter with their family.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Eric Dinges (right), 16, and his father, Dave Dinges, stand in a new storage room Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. Eric volunteered to solicit donations to the Red Cross by asking local businesses to contribute.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Eric Dinges (right), 16, and his father, Dave Dinges, stand in a new storage room Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. Eric volunteered to solicit donations to the Red Cross by asking local businesses to contribute.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM A new dining area Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes the larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM A new dining area Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes the larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms.

Click here to see the article on rrstar.com


St. Bridget’s School in Rockford, Illinois Donates to the Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation

December 12, 2008

We’d like to thank St. Bridget’s for their generous donation to our Emergency Overnight Shelter!

St. Bridget's School Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation 12.11.2008

St. Bridget's School Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation 12.11.2008


Isaiah Project Donates Quilts for Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter

November 11, 2008

The Isaiah Project donated approximately 70 quilts for residents at our Emergency Overnight Shelter a 48 bed facility. Below is a picture of them accepting a certificate.

If you’d like to volunteer at our Emergency Overnight Shelter you can go to our website at rockriver.redcross.org


Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up Saturday October 25, 2008 – Photos

October 27, 2008

Last Saturday was our Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up. Click below to see pictures.
Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008

Dave Syverson tours the Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008
Dave Syverson tours the Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Dave Syverson tours the Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Representative Chuck Jefferson tours Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008 Rockford, Illinois Mayor Larry Morrissey - Emergency Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Clean Up 10.25.2008


Dylan the new face of homelessness in the Rock River Region needs your help

September 23, 2008

Dylan the new face of homelessness in the Rock River Region
Dylan may not know he’s homeless, in fact he’s a very happy 21 month old little boy, he stays at our Emergency Overnight Shelter with his Mom and Dad on 809 Cedar Street in Rockford Illinois. We have actually renovated our shelter to better serve families and children who are homeless an increasing demographic in our area of people in need.

On October 25, 2008 we will be having a Ribbon Cutting to open our newly renovated part of the shelter for children and families. On that day as well there will be a clean-up day where people can volunteer to clean up the shelter and the grounds surrounding it.

If you’d like to donate, volunteer, or learn more about our Emergency Overnight Shelter please visit our website at rockriver.redcross.org or call 815-963-8471.


Third Annual Golf Outting to Benefit Area Homeless

August 13, 2008

Title Underwriters, Bachrodt on State and Contry Homes presents the 3rd Annual Play Day in support of the Nancy J. Smith Homeless Shelter. Located at Timber Pointe Golf Club in Poplar Grove, the Golf’n for the RED play day registration will begin at 11:00 a.m. with Shotgun Start at 12:30. In addition to an afternoon of golf, guests will enjoy prizes, contests, dinner and loads of fun including the chance to win a brand new car through a Hole-in-One Contest!

The Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross began serving the homeless of Rockford in 1988. The 48 bed facility provides guests with overnight shelter when they have nowhere else to go each night of the year. The shelter is available 12 hours every evening and accepts men, women and families.

Guests find assistance through case management sessions that evaluate the individual needs as a whole, rather than just fulfilling their immediate need for housing. Through case management, clients are linked with available services to regain confidence and skills needed to maintain self-sufficiency.

For more information on how to register for Golf’n for the RED or the Nancy J. Smith Homeless Shelter please visit: rockriver.redcross.org or call: (815) 963-8471.