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."
Information about Sleep Out Saturday is available at Bridge Communities' website, bridgecommunities.org.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
St. Petronille Parish
Faith Lutheran Church
Faith Congregational Church
St. James the Apostle Parish
Southminster Presbyterian Church
St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Parish
St. Luke Presbyterian Church
First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst
St. Peter's United Church of Christ
St. Matthew Parish
Hinsdale United Methodist Church
DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church
Lisle Teens With Character
St. Joan of Arc Parish
Camp Fire Girls
Lombard Christian Reformed Church
Peace Lutheran Church
Christ Church of Oak Brook
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
St. Irene Catholic Community of Faith
Resurrection Catholic Church
First United Methodist Church of West Chicago
St. Matthew United Church of Christ
St. Michael Catholic Church
Gary United Methodist Church
St. Scholastica Parish
Woodridge United Methodist Church