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Local News

Sleep Out Saturday to raise money for Bridge Communities

Nonprofit offers transitional housing, mentoring for homeless families

GLEN ELLYN – Diderot Tchapda and his family would have been homeless if it were not for the efforts of Bridge Communities, a Glen Ellyn-based transitional housing and mentorship program for homeless families in DuPage County.

Bridge Communities provided him with a transitional housing apartment for three years after he wasn't able to stay in the house he was living in, and he didn't have enough money to rent an apartment.

"For sure, I was about to sleep in the street with my family," Tchapda said. "It's a wonderful thing that they did for me and my family."

At the time, Tchapda and his family were new to the area. They are originally from Cameroon in Africa.

Tchapda and his family recently took another step forward by moving into a house provided by DuPage Habitat for Humanity. Bridge Communities also mentored him, including showing him how to apply for a job.

"If it wasn't for Bridge Communities, I don't know where I would be now," Tchapda said. "They really helped us a lot."

On Nov. 7, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people will participate in an outdoor, all-night fundraiser: the 12th annual Sleep Out Saturday. About 75 sleep-out sites will be scattered throughout DuPage County on church lawns, in school parking lots and in families' backyards.

Sleep Out Saturday will kick off with an outdoor rally from 6 to 8 p.m. in front of Bridge Communities, 505 Crescent Blvd. in downtown Glen Ellyn. The event is free and open to the public and will feature a live benefit concert with musicians from School of Rock Glen Ellyn and Elmhurst. Judy Hsu, of ABC7 Chicago, will emcee the rally.

The event also is designed to educate the public about poverty and homelessness in DuPage County. In 2014, Bridge Communities received 2,458 calls requesting information about available housing.

"This event really draws attention to the invisible homeless," said Chad Pedigo, special event manager for Bridge Communities. "Bridge Communities has helped over 750 families become self-sufficient and no longer be homeless in their lifetime. The reason we are able to do that is because of events like these where the community comes out to support us."

Since the first Sleep Out Saturday in 2004, more than 11,000 people have slept out to help homeless families, raising more than $1 million to date. Every $35 raised provides one night of housing for a homeless family.

St. Petronille Parish in Glen Ellyn has participated in Sleep Out Saturday since the start of the fundraiser, said Mary Miller, director of youth ministry for St. Petronille.

Miller said events like Sleep Out Saturday help make the kids who participate, as well as the rest of the parish, aware of issues like poverty.

"People with struggles don't live far away," she said. "They live close."

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Know more

Information about Sleep Out Saturday is available at Bridge Communities' website, bridgecommunities.org.

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Participating groups

GLEN ELLYN

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

St. Petronille Parish

Faith Lutheran Church

Faith Congregational Church

St. James the Apostle Parish

Southminster Presbyterian Church

ADDISON

St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Parish

DOWNERS GROVE

St. Luke Presbyterian Church

ELMHURST

First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst

St. Peter's United Church of Christ

GLENDALE HEIGHTS

St. Matthew Parish

HINSDALE

Hinsdale United Methodist Church

Union Church

LISLE

DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church

Lisle Teens With Character

St. Joan of Arc Parish

LOMBARD

Camp Fire Girls

Lombard Christian Reformed Church

Peace Lutheran Church

OAK BROOK

Christ Church of Oak Brook

NAPERVILLE

DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church

First Congregational United Church of Christ

Good Shepherd Church

Harmony Assembly #118

Knox Presbyterian Church

Naperville Covenant Church

Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

River Glen Presbyterian Church

St. Timothy Lutheran Church

WARRENVILLE

St. Irene Catholic Community of Faith

WAYNE

Resurrection Catholic Church

WEST CHICAGO

First United Methodist Church of West Chicago

WHEATON

St. Matthew United Church of Christ

St. Michael Catholic Church

WINFIELD

Gary United Methodist Church

WOODRIDGE

Queens Inc.

St. Scholastica Parish

Woodridge United Methodist Church

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