Moments in our History: First Shelter Meets with Resistance

Following the opening of its first hotline, operating from a church basement, Family Shelter Service was provided with a temporary office facility by St. Luke Lutheran Church, Glen Ellyn. Here the founding mothers would hold “Coffees” where clients would often tell their story to inform the community about this “hidden crime” in their midst.

In 1977, York Township provided a more permanent office space on Meyers Road in Lombard. Family Shelter Service’s first director, Jo ann Smith Myers, worked from this office.

A momentous event, the first shelter was donated in 1980 by the Hanson family. Located in the Village of Glen Ellyn, the early founders were required to obtain village approval before moving forward. The early founders met with tremendous resistance to the opening of the first shelter in Glen Ellyn and hundreds of people filed petitions.

Then DuPage County Judge Terrence Sheen acted as a pro-bono attorney for Family Shelter Service and went door-to-door to address the issue with potential neighbors. Glen Ellyn Village Trustee Joseph Graves came to a Village Board Meeting armed with facts and figures from the successful operation of other shelters and was able to quell people’s fear and at last secure the votes needed to make the project a reality.

The first shelter included an office and five bedrooms and filled to capacity only five days after its opening.