Community provides for those in need


Don’t pay it back. Pay it forward.

That is the theme of the Pay-It-Forward House, 719 Somonauk St., Sycamore. According to their Web site, the house is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing people with a place to stay while their loved ones are patients at Kindred Hospital-Sycamore or Kishwaukee Community Hospital.

Mary Lou Eubanks, Pay-It-Forward House Executive Director, said the Pay-It-Forward House opened in March of 2005 and did not come a minute too soon for some.

“We identified the fact that people at Kindred were sleeping in their cars in January or driving from long distances every day,” Eubanks said. “We didn’t expect the need was that big.”

The house sits next to the Kindred hospital parking lot, is roughly 135 years old, and has provided over 4,300 nights of rest since opening, Eubanks said.

Because the cost to stay is only $5, the guests are asked to pay it forward in different ways.

“There is one chore per bedroom per day,” Eubanks said. “They are also asked to make their own beds and wash their own sheets and towels in order to pay it forward to the next family that comes in.”

Since the house only has one part-time paid position, volunteers have a large hand in the day-to-day operations of the Pay-It-Forward House.

Valerie Berg, service vice president for Alpha Phi Omega, started volunteering at the Pay-It-Forward house last semester along with other members of the fraternity and had a very positive experience.

“It’s a really nice feeling to know that you’re [doing your] part to relieve stress for someone,” Berg said.

Berg added that APO and the Pay-It-Forward House have a strong communicative relationship.

“They’re a great organization,” Berg said. “Everyone is super nice and they are really passionate.”

Volunteering is nothing but beneficial, Berg said.

“[Volunteering] instills good values and communication skills when you go into the workforce. It also can open doors and is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” Berg said.