Community blessings boxes

These mini-pantries are a successful, take-what-you-need, share-what-you-can program providing 24/7 assistance to the food insecure in our communities. Stocked with non-perishables, the Blessings Boxes are donation driven, and have proven to garner expansive community support. At the most conservative estimate, the four existing boxes serve over 4,300 of our hungry neighbors each year.

Almost Home opened their fifth Blessings Box outside of the Chicago Ridge Public Library in June of 2019, bringing the organization one step closer to the goal of at least one Blessings Box in each of their 16 service areas.

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pending meal program

Almost Home Chicago has partnered with three local restaurants to provide hot meals for the area homeless and food insecure.

For $5 each, donors may purchase a meal in advance for someone in need. Restaurants will hold the paid meal vouchers for an Almost Home representative, who then distributes the vouchers. Pending meals are given out at local shelters, to those who live on the streets and in local bridge communities, as well as families and individuals experiencing true and significant financial hardship.

Almost Home is proud to partner with Beggars Pizza of Oak Lawn, Smilin’ Clyde’s Hot Dogs in the Oak Lawn Library, and Grassano’s Pizza of Oak Lawn, who not only have opened their hearts to the current food insecurity crisis, but also have opened their doors to allow pending meal recipients to dine in.

As with the Blessings Boxes, Almost Home would like to have a partner restaurant in each of their 16 service areas.

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shelter haircuts and the traveling store

Almost Home visits a local homeless shelter monthly to provide hair cuts and facial hair grooming for the guests. Fortunate to have talented and compassionate stylists and barbers volunteer their time, those who receive services do so with dignity.

Guests are also able to shop freely from the Almost Home traveling store. A large selection of items are available, from personal hygiene, to backpacks, shoes, coats, and first aid. Due to the support of a local philanthropic organization, Turpin Cares, Almost Home is able to provide those on the streets with all the items they need to survive between shelter visits. Individual donors also keep the traveling store stocked, as well as provide shower passes to a local facility.

Pending meal vouchers are distributed at all shelter events. Due to recent increased support, guests have been provided vouchers for three meals during the previous three monthly visits.

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drug prevention outreach and training

Almost Home Drug Prevention Program Director, Patty Ellison, has expanded the organization’s missions to address the current opioid epidemic, which is killing 130 of our loved ones every day. By 2025, that number is expected to increase by 147%.

Since the addition of this important outreach program, Almost Home has been certified through the State of Illinois as a Drug Overdose Prevention Program. Patty has held numerous seminars, both for the community at large, as well as for closed groups, such as library personnel and the local area homeless. At the conclusion of the seminar, all participants are certified in the use of Naloxone in the event of opioid overdose emergency. Patty has also secured Naloxone from multiple agencies, and distributes to newly certified laypersons.

Almost Home also provides private training and certification for families and individuals already in crisis.

Patty is currently working on forming a local support group, for families and loved ones, as well as for those in active addiction.

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lunches with love

During the months of May through September, local overnight shelters are closed

Each Monday during these months, volunteers provide between 25 and 40 sack lunches for the area homeless for pick up at a local shelter. This program is kept alive purely by those in our communities who want to make a difference.

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friday night bus stop lovin’

During the winter months, Almost Home volunteers will distribute warm weather gear throughout the service area. Hats, gloves, scarves, hand warmers, cough drops, socks, and other items are left in bus shelters for anyone who needs them.

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loaves and fishes

Almost Home’s newest outreach program, the first Loaves and Fishes closet is located at a local recovery home/halfway house for men in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction.

As most residents arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs, Almost Home has “set up shop” to provide new and existing residents with necessities - personal hygiene items, shoes and socks, new pillows and sheets, towels, and so much more. Residents are also able to request specific items, and an Almost Home representative will bring them on a future visit.

This location is in honor of Almost Home Drug Prevention Program Director Patty Ellison’s son, Aidan who was taken by an opioid overdose at age 22.

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ecumenical pastoral care and services

Almost Home, staffed with an ordained minister from the United Methodist Church, Reverend Lawrence Paris, is now able to provide spiritual care and services to those unable to visit a local church. Communion is offered during shelter events, and also within the homeless community.

Many homeless are destitute at the end of their life. Reverend Paris provides final services designed to provide the dignity that the deceased may not have experienced in life. Services may be performed at the funeral home, or at Reverend Paris’ home church.

In June of 2019, Almost Home began offering ecumenical worship services at the sites of local homeless communities. All are welcome to attend these casual gatherings of worship and fellowship.

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