Friday, August 5, 2022

Compassion for Campers Adapted and Evolved to Best Serve the Unhoused

Compassion for Campers made the front page in July 2020.  Sue Rekenthaler and Patrick Murfin set up gear for distribution at the First Methodist Church in McHenry masked for safety during the pandemic.

Two years ago, with most of the country still pretty much on Coronavirus lock down and most of the McHenry County unhoused were locked out of shelters and daytime places of refuge Compassion for Campers struggled to adapt to the new reality and get our friends and neighbors the gear they desperately needed.  We established twice monthly distributions at rotating church sites in Crystal Lake, McHenry, and Woodstock.  But the logistics of storing and transporting our supplies to and from the sites each time was daunting.   Worse, the difficulty of getting the word to our potential clients about our nomadic events meant that despite the critical need, we often served a meager handful of people.

Things improved when we consolidated our distributions at Warp Corp in Woodstock where some items were able to be stored for walk-in availability whenever the store was open.  

Andy Meyer and Sue Rekenthaler  with gear at an early Community Power Shower event at Willow Crystal Lake.

But the creation the Community Power Shower Events at Willow Crystal Lake, 100 S. Main Street last year meant we could finally help more people.  We are now serving almost 30 individuals and families on the first and third Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

These events, now renamed Community Resources Days, will move to a weekly model in August providing laundry, showers, lunch, haircuts and as many agency services as possible each week.  beginning this month.  Compassion for Campers will continue to be available on First and Third Friday afternoons only as we cannot now afford to double our supplies.  The next distribution will be today, August 5 at Willow Crystal Lake, 100 South Main Street in Crystal Lake then on time on August 19.  

Our funds remain critically low.  Compassion for Campers is funded by donations from members of Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry, some small grants, donations from churches associated with the Faith Leaders of McHenry County, and generous donations from the general public.  


Contributions to support Compassion for Campers can be made by sending a check made out to Tree of Life UU Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, IL 60050 with Compassion for Campers on the memo line or donate on-line at designating Compassion for Campers in the drop down menu. The donations are placed in a dedicated fund and not used for any other purpose.  Tree of Life also donates all the administrative expenses of the program so 100% of all donations go directly to client assistance.

We are also appealing for direct donations of certain critically needed items from the public which can be dropped off at Compassion for Campers coordinator Patrick Murfins house, 522 W. Terra Cotta Ave. (Rt. 176), in Crystal Lake or can be deposited in a purple bin in the social room of the Church when the building is open.    These items include:

·         Two and three person easy to erect tents. Must be new or gently used and clean and in original carrying cases with all parts. No heaps of fabric and frames please.

·         New or like new single and double sleeping bags in their carrying bags.

·         Waterproof Camping Tarps 7.5' x 9.5' or larger.

·         16 oz. Propane fuel tanks for single burner camp stoves.

·         Bug spray—High DEET content wet and dry.

·         Mini-flashlights.

·         Please, no bags of clothing!

For more information contact Tree of Life Social Justice Team Chair Patrick Murfin at 815 814-5645 or email


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