Meeting connects Evanston Latino community to resources

Jennifer Ball, Assistant City Editor

Evanston officials held a forum Sunday for Latino residents to discuss issues with language barriers and access to resources in the community.

The meeting, held at Saint Nicholas Church, 806 Ridge Ave., was held to make Latino residents aware of services in Evanston they might not have known about otherwise, deputy city manager Erika Storlie said.

“We figured it’s better for us to go to the people than the people come to us,” she said.

At the meeting, aldermen gave presentations about the various city services available for Latino residents. Booths were set up by city government, Evanston Public Library, and Erie Evanston/Skokie Health Center to give residents the opportunity to ask questions.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) helped to organize the event after an Evanston man voiced his concerns regarding the language barriers and the disconnect between the Latino community and public officials and police. The man expressed worries about access to resources for Latinos in the community, Braithwaite said.

About 30 people attended the event, which began with remarks from the church’s pastor the Rev. Bill Tkachuk.

“You here have to speak for many people today,” he said.

The various services were presented, including those offered by Evanston’s 311 service center, Evanston police and Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

Members of the Evanston Police Department provided translation for residents.

Library services available to Latino residents include teen programming, book discussions and free Internet classes. City officials provided information about Evanston’s Zombie Scramble and free admittance to the Robert Crown Ice Complex. Residents were provided with a map of the wards and a list of city contacts in both English and Spanish.

“This is just a start to the conversation, and I hope we continue the dialogue,” Braithwaite said.

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