Student volunteers monthly at BEDS

St.+Michael%27s+Lutheran+Church+located+in+La+Grange+Park.

Lillie George

St. Michael's Lutheran Church located in La Grange Park.

Lillie George, Reporter

Early one morning, Maya Albores ‘21 served freshly-made breakfast to the homeless community at a local church. As one man passed through, he turned to Albores, and said assuredly, “You know, Jesus was homeless too.” Small instances like this remind Albores of why she volunteers with BEDS Plus Care, she said.

“I think [volunteering there] is a really cool thing because it makes you think about what you have and reminds you not to take things for granted,” Albores said. “There are times when [clients] come talk to me about their lives or things that they’ve gone through, and I think it’s really moving because they’ve been through things that I never would have imagined to have to go through. It’s just really humbling.”

Maya first accompanied her father, Tim Albores, in volunteering at BEDS Plus a few years ago, but decided to return with him again this past month with the intention of it becoming a monthly commitment. That is, once the current conditions of COVID-19 subside and allow for such practices. 

Tim and his friend supervise the temporary shelter at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in La Grange Park from 3-5 a.m., before Maya and another volunteer join them. 

The four volunteers, including Maya, have the responsibility of preparing and feeding clients breakfast before making sure they are ready for the day and sending them off, so that they can have the church cleaned up by 7:30 a.m..

“The thing that makes me smile more than anything else is that even at such an ungodly hour, Maya always has the biggest smile on her face,” Albores said. “The clients really love her. It gives them a little faith in humanity seeing that the younger generation is doing some really great things.”

Both Albores and her dad believe in the potential volunteering has to impact lives positively, and have been involved in community service in some way for many years.

“Ever since Maya was very young she was interested in giving back,” Albores said. “[She used to spend] weekends in elementary school soup kitchens. It’s always just been in her nature and been something she’s very passionate about.”

BEDS Plus focuses on helping those in need to stabilize their lives and does so by providing housing and supportive services. Maya contributes by supporting the local emergency shelter and helping the homeless folk start their days, she said.

“Our clients really appreciate what we do, which I hear a lot, but especially when I follow up with them [after they gain housing],” a quote from stabilization coordinator Miriam Martinez reads on the website of BEDS Plus. 

Interacting with clients can also be quite an eye-opening, refreshing experience, both Maya and her dad said.

“You get a very real world example of how you can help someone else,” Tim said. “You’re seeing people in need of a place to stay. You’re there to put a smile on their face. You know they’re unhappy with their experiences but you’re still able to be there for them.”

Plus, such an experience makes for a positive start to the day for both volunteers and their clients, Maya said. 

“I definitely would encourage others to [volunteer at BEDS], because even though you have to wake up really early, it’s a great start to your day,” Maya said.