1976 – Tom’s office is the trunk of his car. He operates solely on
1977 – Tom opens our first office space opens at Jane Addams Center in
1978 – Tom begins to collaborate with other organizations, assisting with
the Yule Connection Hotline to provide telephone support to those alone during
the holiday season and, with congregational support, hosting our first Christmas
dinner at Broadway United Methodist Church for 300 people in need.
1982 – The Night Ministry incorporates as a not for profit corporation with the State of Illinois.
1983 – Our first intern joins us.
1984 – The Night Ministry hires its first street outreach professionals dedicated to youth.
1985 – Tom Behrens, President of The Night Ministry, sits on the Governor’s Task Force on Homeless Youth, resulting in $900,000 in new funding for homeless and at-risk youth programs.
1986 – We hired staff to begin street outreach with homeless youth.
1987 – We began Exodus Homes, a foster care program for homeless youth, with five congregations
and five foster families.
1989 – We initiate our Outreach and Health Ministry Program, providing mobile health outreach and HIV services to street locations, shelters, and drop-in programs serving homeless youth and adults. We also took a leading role in obtaining the necessary legislation and zoning to allow the creation of emergency shelter housing for youth who are not wards of the state.
1990 – We develop the Youth Shelter Network aimed at creating small, community-based shelters in Chicago for non-ward youth.
1991 – We change our name to The Night Ministry, reflecting service to more
1992 – Open Door Youth Shelter opened in Lakeview as we stopped operation
of Exodus Homes.
1993 – We enhance our Outreach & Health program with new customized Health Outreach Bus and expands services to some South Side neighborhoods.
1994 – Tom Behrens receives a $75,000 Community Service Fellowship grant from the Chicago Community Trust to take a year off to study developmental stages of adolescents and factors leading to their life on the streets.
1995 – We actively begin to include HIV prevention and education as part of our outreach work.
1996 – We hire a Congregational Relations Coordinator to increase volunteer and financial support from congregations.
1998 – We host the first annual youth health issues conference for youth-serving providers.
1999 – We offer new direct service opportunities for congregations and small
groups and replace the Annual Christmas Dinner with our Holiday Celebration
so that we celebrate the season with our Bus visitors. We receive a state grant to purchase a new 15 passenger van for use by Open Door Youth Shelter in transporting youth to outside opportunities and for moving supplies.
2000 – We celebrate our 25th anniversary by developing Vision 2005, a blueprint for program expansion.We begin a partnership with Advocate Mobile Dental Van. The dental van accompanies our Health Outreach Bus to one location a month to provide free emergency dental care.
2001 – The Night Ministry receives funding for a five year pilot program for
community services to homeless and tenuously-housed youth pregnant and parenting , their infants,
and young fathers. We expand our Health Outreach Bus routes to include the West Woodlawn and South Shore neighborhoods.
2002 – We move our office to 4711 North Ravenswood Avenue This bigger space
accommodates a larger Outreach & Health Ministry staff. More outreach staff
has enabled us to better serve our Bus visitors. We expand our Youth Outreach program by offering weekly services on the streets of the Lakeview neighborhood through our "Beat the Heat" and "Freezing Fridays" programs.
2003 – We begin a structured Rapid HIV & STD testing program and enter a Capital Campaign
to fund program expansion and improvements. We hire a dedicated Continuing Care Coordinator, expanding the amount and types of services available to former residents of Open Door Youth Shelter to help them maintain the stability they achieved.
2005 – We replace our 12 year old Health Outreach Bus with a larger,
new, state-of-the-art specially customized 38-foot long Health Outreach Bus which allows us to provide enhanced services more effectively. Recognized as a leader in the provision of homeless shelter to youth, The Night Ministry was invited by the Illinois Department of Human Services to play a prominent role in a task force to develop statewide standards for homeless youth providers. We were also invited to sit on the Executive Committee of Chicago’s Continuum of Care, now known as the Chicago Alliance to end Homelessness.
2006 – We relocated our 120-day Interim Housing Program from Open Door Youth Shelter–Lakeview to a larger,
newly rehabbed building in the West Town neighborhood.
2007 – We launch two new shelter programs for runaway and homeless youth, doubling our bed capacity: the Transitional Living Program, housed on the top floor of Open Door Youth Shelter–West Town, and the Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program, housed at Open Door Youth Shelter–Lakeview. In July 2007, Tom Behrens moved from the role of President to the role of Founding President and Chief Strategist and Paul W. Hamann became The Night Ministry's President.
2011 – The Crib, The Night Ministry's overnight youth shelter, opens in Lakeview.