Lynda Schueler, executive director of West Suburban PADS, will receive the second annual Scott Gaalaas YMCA Partnership Award at the West Cook YMCA Gala benefit set for November 8, 2013 at the Oak Park Country Club.
The event will mark the 110th anniversary of the West Cook YMCA that serves Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and seven other west suburban communities.
Schueler has served as executive director of the not-for-profit agency that helps men, women and families transition from housing crisis to housing security, since 2001.
“Over the years, Lynda has worked tirelessly to form numerous collaborations with agency partners, like the West Cook YMCA whose expertise and resources help guide PADS clients on the road toward self-sufficiency. For example, in recent years the two organizations worked together on a program in which some PADS clients lived in the YMCA’s residence facilities while they moved toward maintaining employment and stabilizing their living situations.
“We believe that in supporting PADS and the significant contributions of Lynda, that we are strengthening our community as a whole,” said Jan Pate, president of the West Cook YMCA.
Under Schuler’s leadership, PADS has grown from a $450,000 a year shelter provider to a $2.4 million agency offering housing, prevention programs and safety-net services. Earlier this year, the agency received $1 million in new grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Illinois Department of Human Services.
“With this level of support, West Suburban PADS is poised for programmatic and operational expansion as the primary provider of supportive housing in West Cook County,” said Pate.
Recently, Schueler led the formation of a comprehensive solution to homelessness that will be used by more than 1,000 people from Oak Park and surrounding communities in the coming year.
Schueler is the founder and a current board member of the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County, and has received awards of recognition for
advocacy and service work from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Action Illinois, and the Maywood Chamber of Commerce.
She earned a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from Northern Illinois University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Illinois State University.
The award is named in honor of the late Scott Gaalaas who served the YMCA for 32 years in Indiana and Palatine, Illinois before joining the West Cook YMCA in 1997 where he served as president and CEO for 12 years until his retirement in 2009. He died in 2012.
Al Gini, professor of Business Ethics at Loyola University Chicago, resident philosopher on NPR, a published author and YMCA member, will serve as emcee for the Gala fund raising event. Otis Wilson, a member of the 1985 Championship Chicago Bears and head of the Otis Wilson Charitable Association, will be the keynote speaker.
Gala reservations at $ 150 each or a table of 10 at $1,350 may be made through the West Cook YMCA web sitewww.westcookymca.org, at the West Cook YMCA front desk 255 South Marion Street, Oak Park, Illinois or by contacting Lillian M. Shaker at 708.434.0213.
The West Cook YMCA—110 years of service to west suburban communities
Founded in 1903 by members of the Austin, Douglass, Hemmingway, Lyman and Scoville families and others, the original Oak Park YMCA building, now converted to a condominium, was located on the west side of North Oak Park Avenue a few doors north of Lake Street across from what is now Scoville Park. It boasted of having one of the largest indoor swimming pools in the U.S It also had a gymnasium, bowling lanes, handball and tennis courts and offered reading and night school courses.
By the end of World War II times had changed, demand for more services was up and space was at a premium. So after fifty years, a new YMCA building was funded by a campaign led by the Carpenter, Houser, Replogle and Snow families and opened in 1953 on South Marion Street at Randolph Street where it has served west suburban communities for more than a half-century.
Today, the West Cook YMCA touches the lives of more than 10,000 residents of ten west suburban communities--Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Bellwood, Elmwood Park, Franklin Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, River Grove and Stone Park.
“Today’s YMCAs are far more than brick and mortar to house athletic and fitness facilities that characterized the original organizations. Now, the YMCA works to strengthen the foundations of the communities it serves through initiatives focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” explained Pate.
The West Cook YMCA is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the ten west suburban communities it serves by offering more than 100 programs and classes inside
the YMCA and in outreach through numerous collaborative relationships with organizations such as PADS, as well as schools, park districts, senior facilities, health care providers, faith based institutions, government agencies and other groups, she added.