Putting the ‘home’ in Homewood

by Meg White

Dale Taylor (center) at the South Suburban PADS shelter with two fellow board members

Every year, the National Association of Realtors picks out five members to join the ranks of its Good Neighbor Society, and this year, a Chicagoland broker was among the lucky ones. Dale Taylor, broker-associate with RE/MAX 10 in New Lenox, was recognized for the nearly two decades of work he’s put into mitigating homelessness in the south suburbs.

It all started when Taylor was tapped to help South Suburban Public Action to Deliver Shelter, also known as South Suburban PADS, prepare a temporary shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The experience was moving for Taylor. “It was very obvious that many of them were plucked off their roof, put on an airplane and brought here,” he told NAR’s Realtor Magazine. The effort had such an impact on Taylor that he became a shelter site manager and joined the board of South Suburban PADS.

Some 19 years later, Taylor spends pretty much every Monday night working with the more than 35 homeless men staying at the shelter he manages at the Faith Lutheran Church in Homewood. According to Realtor Magazine, Taylor starts around 6 p.m. mopping floors, serving meals, cleaning bathrooms and keeping watch over those staying in the shelter, only returning home at 7 a.m. each Tuesday. He’s raised more than $300,000 for the organization, which also provides job training and helps to find affordable rentals, healthcare and other services for those in need.

Every year, NAR’s Good Neighbor program — which is celebrating 20 years of recognizing Realtors for their volunteer work — gives out $10,000 grants to five Realtors, money they are able to use to ramp up their already impressive charitable work. Winners also receive travel expenses to NAR’s national conference and media exposure for the causes they champion.

Still, there’s quite a bit that the real estate community here in Chicagoland can do to get involved. We asked Taylor what Chicago Agent magazine readers can do to help out, and it turns out there are plenty of opportunities for those who have time and resources to share. For those who wish to join him on Monday nights, Taylor noted that shifts are available from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., 2:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.

“I ask volunteers to own one Monday shift a month, so I don’t burn them out. They are welcome to do more, but it is so much easier on their schedule if they plan, for example, to serve every first Monday on the third shift,” Taylor said. “Mine is a men’s shelter, but there are around 14 other shelters they can select to serve at around the Chicago south land between Harvey and Park Forest.”

For those looking to donate, Taylor said shelters have very particular needs, including pillowcases, sheets and Febreze-type fabric refresher. In terms of what people who are experiencing homelessness need most, Taylor advises donors put oneself in the shoes of others: “Think of an individual carrying around nearly everything they own on them,” he said, adding that some particularly helpful items include socks, gloves, scarves, caps, underwear, travel-size toiletries, bus passes, backpacks or small luggage on wheels. Finally, Taylor noted that South Suburban PADS will be holding its annual fall fundraiser at the Flossmoor Community Church on Oct. 23, but space is limited, and tickets won’t be available at the door, so be sure to get tickets ahead of time here.

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