DOWNERS GROVE – With homelessness a concern across DuPage county, the Downers Grove Public Library will host events throughout October to promote awareness of the issue locally and give residents ways to help.
The Downers Grove Public Library Foundation is sponsoring the month of events, titled "There’s No Place That’s Home." DuPage County PADS, Hope’s Front Door and the village of Downers Grove are partnering with the library to put on the events.
The kickoff for the event was a free showing of "The Public," a film focused on homelessness, on Oct. 2 at the Tivoli Theater.
Cindy Khatri, the library’s public relations manager, said the library staff has been following the making of the film carefully and were inspired to host a series of events when it was finally released. The film is about the relationship between people who are housing insecure and public libraries, she said.
“People don’t always think of the relationship between the homeless community and the library, but it’s there, and it’s a strong one,” Khatri said. “People come to the library just because it’s warm or cold depending on the season, and it’s just a safe place.”
Khatri said the film, directed by Emilio Estevez, spurred the planning for additional events throughout the month. Those events include a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Oct. 9, a volunteer fair from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 20 and a community read and discussion from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 29. The events will be in the meeting room of the library, 1050 Curtiss St.
The community read will feature author Connie King Leonard, who will discuss her book, "Sleeping In My Jeans" via Skype. Books are available at the library.
In addition, the library is teaming up with other organizations to help provide residents with steps they can take to help combat homelessness and support the community, Khatri said.
The kickoff event included a question-and-answer session with representatives from DuPage PADS.
The library is involved in the monthlong program because it's intimately involved with homelessness.
“The library becomes a default place for people who are housing insecure, and we don’t turn people away,” Khatri said. “A lot of people have an idea of the stereotypical homeless person, but we’re taking the veil off of the stigma because these are people who are community members, too.”
The library doesn’t turn anyone away, Khatri said. Instead, it treats everyone the same and helps them find the resources they need when they walk through the doors.
Khatri said these events will serve as a great entry point for community members to join the conversation. It is important to extinguish stereotypes and remember that everyone’s situation is different, she said.
“This population is always on our minds at the library,” Khatri said. “We’re giving the issue awareness, and we hope everyone comes out, no matter their personal opinion on homelessness.”