Youth Volunteer Spotlight- Compassionate and Committed Justin
“One day I was riding with my dad to his work on the South Side of Chicago. I immediately wanted to do something to help and I really didn’t realize homelessness was happening here in my own community,” Justin recalls.
His dad recommended Justin look into volunteering at DuPagePads. Now 17, he has been volunteering with DuPagePads since he was 12 years old and eligible to volunteer.
“I was anxious to start volunteering at Community Presbyterian Church in Clarendon Hills; I began volunteering the day after I turned 12,” Justin shares with a laugh.
When Justin first started volunteering, he would set up the sleeping area and prepare bag lunches. Exhibiting a desire to interact with the participants, he graduated to helping check in the guests and became a welcoming, familiar face. ”Some of the most impactful moments I have had volunteering has been playing with the young children and helping families out. It creates something of a ‘normal’ time for them and you feel the appreciation from both the parents and kids,” he recalls.
As time went by, Justin began encouraging his family and friends to help out at the overnight site with him. “When I started volunteering it was really just me going, but now my whole family goes (parents, brother and two sisters). It is a time where we are all together, feeling good, and helping others. For a family, I don’t think it can get any better than that,” Justin says.
Seeing DuPagePads staff member’s dedication, Justin decided to take his passion for ending homelessness to the next level by raising funds for DuPagePads. “I’m inspired by the commitment of DuPagePads staff and how much they care about people coming to the site, especially case manager Rebecca who I’ve gotten to work with a lot.”
Justin asked close family members to donate 10 cents for every program participant he checked in. As the numbers started to grow, Justin decided he would donate five dollars of his own savings for each shift he volunteered and asked his family to do the same. As a result, over his years of service he was able to raise more than $1,100 to donate to DuPagePads housing programs and support services.
Over his five years of volunteering, Justin has set up more than 1,400 sleeping pads, prepared more than 1,200 lunches and served more than 1,400 hot meals.
We are inspired daily by the commitment and compassion of our more than 4,000 volunteers including 17-year-old Justin. He is a shining example of someone who has gone above and beyond to assist the families and individuals we serve, in as many ways as he can. Thank you, Justin!
When asked why he continues to volunteer for DuPagePads, Justin explains, “I continue to come away from volunteering feeling like I really have helped someone and that feeling is powerful and stays with me.”