'Sleep Out' Fosters Empathy For Homeless

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Photo credit courtesy: Bridge Communities

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- As temperatures stay December-like over the weekend, a few hundred people in DuPage County will get a small taste of what it’s like to be homeless.Lisa Doyle, marketing and communications manager for Bridge Communities, said about 50 groups -- from churches to schools and individual families -- will be taking part in the 16th annual Sleep Out Saturday.

The object is to raise money for the organization and to provide awareness of what the homeless endure, Doyle said.

"This is a great, empathy-building experience for participants to give up a warm bed for one night and, in return, they are going to get a lifetime of understanding and empathy,” she said.

Bridge Communities provides transitional housing for homeless in DuPage County. It’s a roughly two-year program in which people are given an apartment to live in while they are counseled in being more self-sufficient. More than 850 families have been served since 1988.Sleep Out Saturday is always the first Saturday night in November.

"It’s a real eye-opener experience, and that’s why we do choose to hold it in November. It’s not supposed to be a comfortable camping trip in August," says Doyle.She adds: "In DuPage County, a lot of the homelessness is rather hidden because a lot of the families that are homeless are couch-surfing or they’re staying in motels briefly."