Shelter Pivots

December 2020 View more

When you’re the second-largest shelter in the state during a global pandemic, how do you continue to keep your doors open? With a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work—from both employees and volunteers.

The staff at Aurora’s Hesed House, which has housed hundreds throughout the pandemic, converted warehouse space into a third shelter area filled with tents to give the residents privacy and social distancing. But the shelter reached a low point at the end of the spring when Health Department guidelines prohibited Hesed House from accepting new guests. “I never want to tell someone he or she cannot stay here again,” says managing director Joe Jackson.

Thanks to a $1 million CARES Act grant allocated to the City of Aurora by DuPage County, Hesed House will be able to construct a permanent shelter by the end of the year to house up to 266 men, women, and children safely. The funds will not only cover the building costs, but the supplies and staffing needed for the added space.

And although in-person volunteer programs were halted in March, groups and families have continued to bring needed meals and toiletries to the shelter’s residents. For a list of the current needs and drop-off hours for Hesed House, visit

Photos courtesy Hesed House