It’s a humble sort of food, the kind that represents the most fundamental meeting of the human requirement for sustenance. But the nourishment soup provides locally every autumn can stretch quite far.
When the Rotary Club of Naperville presents its yearly Soup’s On fundraiser, the event will draw funds that remain a crucial means of support for the four nonprofits under its beneficiary umbrella. The sixth annual benefit for DuPage Public Action to Deliver Shelter, Hesed House Inc., the Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry and The Rotary Club of Naperville Charities will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in a new venue this year: the recently renovated Naperville Central High School, 440 Aurora Ave.
Much more than soup will be served up — from chilis, stews and sandwiches to breads, cheeses and desserts — prepared by more than two dozen local restaurants and other vendors.
Carol Simler, DuPage PADS’ director, said numerous area families have been able to move from homelessness to secure and permanent housing with help from the event.
“Certainly it’s a great means of support and community awareness. When we look over the last five years, this support touched 6,354 lives,” Simler said. “This kind of support allows us to offer the supplemental services that we can offer to the individuals and families that come to our door.”
Head counts at the agency’s overnight shelters, in various churches along the Metra rail lines, have gone down in the past couple of years, Simler said, although participation in its day programs is up.
“That tells us that our diversion program is working, and it tells us that our outreach to families is working,” she said.
Services provided at the nonprofit’s downtown Wheaton offices include on-site parenting, self-esteem and other groups and workshops; linkages to medical, substance abuse and mental health services; access to laundry and shower facilities; a variety of employment support; and daily lunches.
Hesed House in Aurora, which provides shelter, food and services to more than 400 people daily, is the state’s second-largest shelter for the homeless.
“Proceeds raised through Soup’s On significantly impact our ability to help people on the worst day of their lives and transition them to a place of independence and dignity,” said Mary Ensor, division director of resources, in a news release.
Charles McLimans, executive director and CEO of Loaves & Fishes, said the event has provided much-needed support for the trio of agencies as the nation’s economic recovery grinds on.
“It’s been a great help for Loaves & Fishes, DuPage PADS and Hesed House. It has provided over $500,000 in funds since 2008,” said McLimans, who noted that the first Soup’s On coincided with the beginning of the last U.S. recession. “The event has been a timely event, and it has been very impactful.”
The fourth partner, the Rotary Club of Naperville Charities, uses it share of the proceeds to provide community grants to other nonprofit organizations, such as Naperville CARES or 360 Youth Services.
“The priority is for humanitarian needs,” McLimans said.
The recipients of the event’s proceeds strive to pay it forward, each agency committing to buying 200 tickets that they then sell to their supporters, which gives full and active participation, he said.
“More than just being the beneficiaries of this event, (the nonprofits) are full partners.”
More information about Soup’s On, including ways to become a sponsor or donate silent auction items, can be found at www.soupsonrotary.com.