Women In Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) is a transitional living facility for homeless women and their children who reside in the North and Northwest suburbs of Chicago. The program has been in existence since 1985 and the need in the area continues to expand. One of the primary reasons that the agency is able to successfully maintain its growth is because of the investment of its volunteers. John Endres has been actively involved as a volunteer with the WINGS program since 1991.
Endres first became involved with the program on a part-time basis. As a retired electrical engineer, he was very versed in the physical needs of the growing facilities of the agency. After his retirement in May 1993, his involvement with the WINGS program intensified. He became a member of the Board of Directors in January 1994 and remains a very active participant.
The real commitment of Endres to WINGS is evident in his involvement as the unofficial maintenance staff person. Although rarely recognized, he is in charge of all electrical, plumbing, and other repair work for two of the program’s Stage I homes, five Stage II share apartments, and the central office. Each of the Stage I homes house 10-12 women and children, and each Stage II apartment houses 18-20 residents. Endres also oversees the construction of a three-bedroom home. All of these sites are scattered throughout five adjoining suburbs. The financial benefits of his work and pro bono contacts result in the agency saving substantial amounts of much needed funds.
Endres oversees painting and repair projects as well. He is also the contact person for all major furniture and appliance donations. Since people who donate items often lack vehicles to transport these articles, Endres made arrangements for the use of a gratis delivery truck to pick up furniture from any location in metropolitan Chicago.
When residents graduate from the program, Endres makes every effort to set up the families with furnishings they will need to start their new life. Even after they have left the program, he makes repeated efforts to assist the graduates with their developing household needs. Given that Endres also volunteers for the Center of Concern, another housing program in the area, and the Social Concerns Committee of Mary Seat of Wisdom Church, his time is limited. Yet, he is always willing to talk about new projects and developments, and take on extra responsibilities.
John Endres was recently one of 17 finalists for the Golden Rule/Oustanding Volunteer Awards sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago and JCPenney. He has also received awards from both Mary Seat of Wisdom and the Center of Concern for his outstanding community service efforts.