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Our History


Hope Haven of DeKalb County, Inc. began in 1986 as Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS through the efforts of the Sycamore Ministerial Association and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sycamore.  PADS was run by volunteers from five area churches (Sycamore United Methodist, Salem Lutheran, Newman Catholic Student Center, Hillcrest Covenant, and St. Mary’s Sycamore), who provided food and shelter to homeless people of DeKalb County on a rotating basis one night a week.   In the first year, PADS provided 400 nights of shelter, served 800 meals, and had a nightly average of 3.1 people.

In 1988, PADS obtained a regular site, renting the vacant parsonage owned by First United Methodist in DeKalb, and hired its first

part-time director.


In 1990, PADS began offering shelter seven nights a week at a permanent site, 316 North Sixth Street in DeKalb.   The board decided to stay open year-around in 1991 and officially changed the name to Hope Haven of DeKalb County, Inc.  In 1995, Lesly Wicks, the current Executive Director, was hired.

In early 2000, Hope Haven clients and staff moved into the new shelter at 1145 Rushmoore Drive, tripling the capacity to serve homeless

individuals and families.

In 2011, Hope Haven broke ground on an expansion project that added almost 4,500 square feet to the existing Emergency Shelter, including 30 more beds, a large classroom, and an additional play room.

In 2004, Dresser Court opened at

965 West Dresser Road in DeKalb, providing permanent housing with services to chronically homeless individuals with disabilities.


In January 2015, Hope Haven opened two programs based on evidence-based, best practices in the field of homelessness. The Rapid Re-housing program provides financial assistance and supportive services to homeless families who have a disabled family member.  This program expedites the process of transitioning families with greater needs from homelessness to permanent housing. The Housing First program offers long term permanent housing to twelve individuals who have been chronically homeless due to a diagnosed mental illness. Both programs are geared to help individuals and families access permanent housing and reduce the days spent homeless.


In June 2015, Hope Haven initiated Therapy Groups for youth who have experienced complex childhood trauma.  The trauma model includes traditional talk therapy combined with wilderness exploration.  Mindfulness, nature, meditation, and experiential learning are also key elements in the process of healing from childhood trauma.

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