New PADS director comes prepared to help
Betsy Boesch carries some pads for homeless clients with the help of volunteer Brittny Denton on Nov. 29 at First United Methodist Church. Betsy Boesch is the new shelter director of West Suburban PADS. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:06AM
Betsy Boesch started Oct. 2 as the new shelter director at West Suburban PADS. She oversees 10 overnight shelters located in churches in the west Cook suburbs and 1000 volunteers. Last year, West Suburban PADS provided 480 people a place to sleep. Boesch brings a master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in trauma treatment from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.
She oversees 10 overnight shelters located in churches in the west Cook suburbs and 1000 volunteers. Last year, West Suburban PADS provided 480 people a place to sleep.
Boesch brings a master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in trauma treatment from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.
Q: Where are you from originally?
A: Indianapolis. I go every single year to the Indy 500. It’s a family tradition.
Q: Why did you focus on trauma within your studies?
A: When I first started undergrad, I was interested in art therapy. For my master’s, I was interviewed by the chair of the trauma program. He told me about all the great work they had done around 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Q: What type of trauma?
A: Disaster relief, physical and sexual abuse, addictions, substance abuse.
Q: What did you do after earning a master’s degree?
A: I worked with adolescents with moderate to severe mental illness in Boston. Some depression, some anxiety, adjustment disorder, a lot of kids dealing with traumatic issues of the past, physical abuse, sexual abuse, some autism.
Q: What next?
A: I had a fire in my apartment. The Red Cross came out to meet with me. I became a volunteer. I responded to local fires mostly. I met with families involved and provided food, clothing and shelter based on an assessment of damage. A couple years later I began working with them in the disaster department.
Q: When was that?
A: Late August 2011. Less that 48 hours after I started my job with the Red Cross, Hurricane Irene took place. I spent my first four to five nights on the job at the job. I organized volunteers who responded to disasters.
Q: What other disasters?
A: Many local fires, local building evacuations. Wild fires in Colorado for a couple weeks.
Q: How was that?
A: It was a neat experience being in Colorado. When a hurricane comes in, its takes out entire cities and towns and you respond in the aftermath. Wild fires occur while you are there supporting the victims.
Q: Why did you move back to the Midwest and take a job with West Suburban PADS?
A: I really wanted to get back to my family in Indianapolis. (Also), it’s fairly similar to what I did with the Red Cross.
Q: What does a shelter coordinator do?
A: Managing and coordinate a team or volunteers and organize volunteer shifts. Help to set up shelters every night and coordinate logistics. Oversee supplies, meals.
Q: Has the number of people using shelters changes in recent years?
A: We’ve seen a 35 percent increase this year alone. I suspect that through Chicagoland other organizations are experiencing the same thing.