SecondFirst Presbyterian Church

Since 2019, SecondFirst Church has run The Overnight Café. Community leaders saw a need for an overnight warming center for those who can’t stay elsewhere due to religious affiliations, LGBTQIA+ identification, medical conditions, undocumented status, mental health issues, sex offender status, and drug or alcohol abuse. That first year, “Sarge” was homeless after 20 years of military service. With wind chills of -51 degrees, he knew that spending a night outside as dangerous. “Someone from the Overnight Café found me in a parking garage and said, ‘Come with me,’ and literally saved my life.” No unhoused person has died in Rockford, Illinois, due to the cold since the café began. The café works with local agencies to help guests obtain permanent services. Volunteers provide meals. Funding came from a local community foundation. Where are our guests now? Some have housing, have government benefits or are working. Others remain unhoused and are regular guests. “Sarge” is now employed at the café.