Updated: Sep 7, 2018

When Karen Harris left home for DuPage County to care for her daughter (now deceased), she left behind friends and financial support. She found a community singing with Harmony, Hope & Healing at the DuPage PADS Client Service Center.

Jen Coyer of DuPage PADS says many come back to the classes to sing and share even after placements where they access a host of programs as well as housing.

In 2014, Karen Harris moved from Indianapolis to DuPage County to help her ill daughter and grandchild, both of whom have since died from cancer, and care for a second granddaughter who was finishing college. She has been coming to Harmony, Hope & Healing programs sponsored by DuPage PADS since we started at the site in March 2016.

Harris is one of many who join us every other week for class in the Client Service Center in Wheaton, the only daytime facility for people who are homeless in DuPage County. In addition to hosting several groups and workshops, the center provides individuals and families strategies to obtain and retain employment, links to medical, substance abuse and mental health services, laundry and shower facilities, and daily lunches.

When she left Indianapolis, the federal Housing Choice Voucher that helped to cover her rent did not follow her to Illinois. DuPage PADS staff connected her with an attorney who helped her to explain the situation and regain access to the program. She’s also gotten help from Elmhurst Church and others in the community.

Harris includes the program assistants and staff of Harmony, Hope & Healing among the community that helped her to get through a difficult time: “They speak faith words and keep you encouraged [with] the love they share when they come.” She says they share a message that “everybody is a person, no-one is greater than another.”

Jennifer Coyer directs the Client Service Center and says Harris is one of many loyal Harmony, Hope & Healing fans at DuPage PADS. “Our primary focus at the Service Center is people who are homeless, but we find folks who have moved on to housing are still coming back to the Harmony, Hope & Healing music sessions,” Coyer says.

Coyer says the center often refers visitors on to transitional housing in the county, where other services and a community center are available, but welcomes people who technically are no longer homeless to come back for the music classes. There, they can talk about substance abuse or other struggles they continue to face even though they are no longer homeless.

“In January, at least four or five times I had people asking, is Harmony, Hope & Healing coming this week? When are they coming back?” Coyer adds. “I think it's the enjoyment of the music, this common bond that folks have…. Just the camaraderie of coming together.”

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