OAK PARK, Ill. — The mission statement is clear for one church that sits on the edge of Oak Park.
“You help people in need – that’s who we are,” said Kathy Nolte, the lead pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
Built on that foundation in 1936, Nolte, quite literally and figuratively, answered the call that came ringing around midnight. On the other line was Oak Park’s village president asking if Nolte would take in some asylum seekers who had been sleeping outside in the cold.
“I said, ‘Give me 15 minutes. I’ll be at the door. We’ll open the church,'” Nolte said.
Since then, Nolte has been actively working to help about 100 people get situated inside their little building of faith.
“We are full and cannot take one more person,” Nolte said. “We are bursting at the seams. We are not a big congregation. We just have a big heart.”
The relocation is hot on the heels of $150,000 in grant money awarded to Oak Park to assist in the migrant crisis— a donation matched earlier in the week by the village.
A reprieve from the cold for the foreseeable future is a relief for Venezuelan migrant Nelly Cedeno, who had been staying outside Chicago’s 15th Police District. Cedeno had been sleeping in a tent for two months with her daughters and a couple of grandkids – the youngest of whom had been terribly sick.
Gerson Amaya, also from Venezuela, with his wife and 6-year-old son, told WGN News that he is relieved to have a proper roof over their heads for the first time in three months.