McHenry County began to recognize that homelessness was a reality in the community in 1984. St. Thomas Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake and Calvary Assembly of God Church sent out a survey to every church in the County asking if increasing numbers of homeless were coming to their doors for help, in an effort to discover whether this was a local problem in the parish of St. Thomas or if it was, as feared, a new trend that needed to be addressed immediately before the numbers grew. At that time there were only about fifteen individuals/families in dire need. We wish that was the case today. The Survey reinforced the concern that indeed, homelessness was not just in Cook County but suffered by our neighbors and our own family members.
Calvary Assembly of God Church hosted a breakfast meeting where Joy Martin, the Mission Outreach Chair of Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church broke bread and educated the attendees of the growing needs of McHenry County. Although attendees listened and believed the problem was existent, but not one person felt capable of taking any action to solve it. It was obvious that the “not next door to me” philosophy was going to be a hurdle to overcome. As the year went on, more and more people started acknowledging that this problem wasn’t going to solve itself. And so it was when another pancake breakfast was given in 1985 with 24 people in attendance, Joy Martin and six other community members from different churches stepped forward to do something about this growing need.
As the committee began searching for funds and housing for a temporary shelter, the committee ran into walls of objection in every direction they turned. Donations were being made to enable the committee/First Board of Directors to house some people in local motels, but a shelter seemed an impossible dream.