People's Resource Center is a grassroots organization in DuPage County, Illinois, founded in 1975 by community members looking to help neighbors who were struggling with hunger. Inspired by social justice heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Jane Addams, founders Dorothy McIntyre, Father Tom Peyton and a group of volunteers from the Religious Education Community sought to do more than start a local food pantry. They wanted to build an organization across DuPage County that would help people overcome the isolating experience of poverty in the suburbs and build community that crossed socioeconomic divisions. They rented a small house on a quiet street in Wheaton, Illinois, asked their friends to bring by sacks of groceries, and opened the doors. That first year they shared food with 125 local families.
Today, People's Resource Center (PRC) operates one of the largest food pantry programs in the western Chicago suburbs, providing nearly 30,000 low-income DuPage County residents with basic human services and relationship-based educational programs to create paths to self-sufficiency.
People's Resource Center has offered leadership for the community's response to emerging needs by supporting the development of innovative programs, including:
• Establishing a countywide food pantry in 1975 to respond to hunger in DuPage County
• Developing the DuPage P.A.D.S. sheltering program (now an independent organization) in 1985 to address large-scale homelessness
• Establishing the DuPage Community Clinic (now operating independently) in 1988 to meet the health needs of uninsured residents, followed by a Dental Clinic in 1996 to meet the need for free dental services
• Establishing computer access and training program in 1997 to address the “digital divide”
• Forming literacy classes in 1997 to teach basic reading skills, ESL, and offer assistance with GED and citizenship tests.
• Creating PRC's Art Program in 1997 to encourage artistic self-expression for low-income women
• Developing a jobs program in 2006 to address the need for job assistance mentors to serve low-income, entry level workers.
• Opening a second location in Southeast DuPage to respond to the growing need and changing demographics in DuPage County following the recession in 2008.
• Purchasing a larger, permanent home in Westmont to provide services to those in Southeast DuPage in 2014. The facility opened in April 2015.
During the past decade, poverty has moved from the city of Chicago into its suburbs—in DuPage County, the poverty rate has doubled. For a community experiencing a significant demographic shift—becoming less white, less wealthy, and much more multicultural—People's Resource Center plays a significant leadership role in introducing the community to its new neighbors. People's Resource Center is exemplary among local agencies for its significant contributions toward building multicultural community in DuPage County.
In 2012, Miracles Relied Upon: A History of the People's Resource Center was written and published by longtime PRC leaders Margaret and Warren Roth. The book chronicles PRC's founding and nearly 40 years of history. To order a copy of the book ($10 suggested donation), contact People's Resource Center at 630-682-5402 or order through Amazon.