Downers Grove High School Students Wake Up Early to Serve Homeless
Spotlight on Students from Downers Grove North
A group of high schoolers from Downers Grove North High School are committed to helping end homelessness in a very inspiring way.
Every Tuesday morning, these high school students volunteer for the breakfast and cleanup shift at First Congregational Church in Downers Grove, an Interim (Overnight) Housing site where DuPagePads clients seek food, safety and shelter.
This dedicated group of students wake up early to serve breakfast from 6:00am-7:00am am before school begins. You will also find the students at the overnight site every Tuesday from October through April, including times when school is not in session, such as spring break, winter break and holidays including Christmas.
Bob Katrein, former Downers Grove North teacher who started the student group over 15 years ago, has been working with DuPagePads for 25 years. After each shift, he takes the student volunteers out to breakfast at Busy Bee Bakery, where they toast to their hard work and dedication while enjoying a donut.
That morning, each student receives a sticker to place on a chart, signifying the number of times they have volunteered over the course of the year and serves as a visual symbol of their impact. Bob says, “Students volunteer for the donut and the sticker.” However, the students say that is not the only benefit.
“Feeling helpful and making a difference is a great way to start your Tuesday,” Shelby smiles, a junior at the school who has volunteered for two years.
Another student, Callie, agrees. She says that her friends brought her one Tuesday, against her will. “Then I fell in love with the mission.” She has been volunteering for two years now.
One student, Zach, admits that it is hard to wake up at 5:30 in the morning. However, he finds the experience rewarding, “It feels good to get up and do something for others.”
Matt Weber, who is a science teacher at the school and currently leads the student group, is amazed by the hard work they do. “The kids are already over extended – sports, academics, clubs – and they still come here. They’re excited about it.”
With the commitment and enthusiasm shown by Bob, Mr. Weber and the students, they are touching lives and helping to address basic needs of those who are homeless in the community. Once these critical needs are addressed, DuPagePads assists people to work toward their full potential and create a plan for housing.
Are you or youth you know interested in volunteering?