GLEN ELLYN – Things hit rock bottom for Steve Paterkiewicz after he lost his job.
"The plant decided to downsize, so I was one of the guys who got let go," he said. "It was tough from there trying to get back on my feet."
A single parent raising two sons, the 36-year-old Paterkiewicz decided to turn to Bridge Communities, a Glen Ellyn-based transitional housing and mentorship program for homeless families in DuPage County. St. Michael Catholic Church in Wheaton sponsored Paterkiewicz and his two sons in the program.
"I would say that things are going really nice now, and we owe a good deal of that to Bridge [Communities] and a lot of prayer," Paterkiewicz said. "Everything seemed to get back to normal... The biggest thing that Bridge helped me with was to regain my life back, being able to take my life by the horns and start tackling a lot of things I wouldn't have been able to do without the program."
That included paying off debts and rebuilding his savings. These days, Paterkiewicz is employed and living in Glendale Heights. He got married in October 2016 – his wife was a single mother with three daughters – and they purchased a home.
On Nov. 4, an estimated 2,000 people will participate in an outdoor, all-night fundraiser for Bridge Communities' Transitional Housing Program: the annual Sleep Out Saturday. Since its inception in 2004, Sleep Out Saturday has raised more than $1 million to support the families in the housing program.
The all-night event will be held in parking lots, parks and backyards in more than 25 DuPage County communities. Sleep Out Saturday will kick off at 6 p.m. with a rally in front of Bridge Communities, 505 Crescent Blvd. in downtown Glen Ellyn.
Sleep Out Saturday also is designed to educate the public about poverty and homelessness in DuPage County. Bridge Communities will serve 130 homeless families this year.
Transitional housing provides apartments, supportive services and a stable environment to homeless families who are working to improve or develop the skills necessary to live independently. Paterkiewicz and his family will participate in Sleep Out Saturday.
Paterkiewicz hopes other people who are facing challenges similar to what he did will reach out to Bridge Communities. He works with the organization these days, and he will sit in on meetings with new clients who are potentially wanting to be homeowners.
"I educate them on the process of buying a home," he said.
He also works with real estate agents to get leftover furniture donated to Bridge Communities families who are without furniture.
"I want to do anything I can to help give back," Paterkiewicz said.
Information about Sleep Out Saturday is available at Bridge Communities' website, bridgecommunities.org.