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Police: Overdose at Church an Aberration For Local Homeless Nonprofit

Police say the drug overdose at Sacred Heart Church was an unusual occurrence.

Palos Hills police responded to a reported drug overdose around 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7, and it was the location of the incident that proved a bit unusual.

A man was found lying on the floor of a bathroom at , 8245 W. 111th St. in Palos Hills, with a syringe and needle beside him, police said.

The man was rushed to where he was treated. No charges were filed because no drugs were found on the scene, Deputy Police Chief James Boie said. Only a needle and empty syringe were present.

The man was at the church as part of a PADS program where area homeless are given a hot meal Friday night, a place to sleep and a light breakfast the next morning.  Sacred Heart has been participating in the program for the last five years, said pastoral associate Bill Droel.

South Suburban PADS is a Chicago Heights-based nonprofit that works with local faith communities to provide services to homeless individuals throughout the south suburbs.

Boie said this was an uncommon occurrence and the PADS program at Sacred Heart has not presented any previous problems.

"Incidents like this are very rare," Droel said. "We handled it very thoroughly and with great care."

Many members of area churches volunteer their time and donate food to provide the Friday night meals, Droel said. More than 50 people are served each Friday, a number that continues to rise with the bad economy.

Droel emphasized that the overdose could have happened anywhere and that it was perhaps fortuitous that it occurred in a church where responders were called right away.

"It just so happened to be at our door," Droel said. "He might not have survived if it happened at an empty place."

Program participants register through PADS and are guided toward a variety of services, Droel said. Everyone must pass a breathalyzer test before they enter.

All participants carry a badge that allows PADS to track any problems and report it to all organizations that provide services. Droel says the man who overdosed did not have a badge and was a first-time attendee. Out of charity the man was allowed to enter, he said.

He overdosed a short time after arriving, Droel said.

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