The Daily Northwestern

Residents turn to local representatives for help with social welfare services

U.S.+Rep.+Jan+Schakowsky+%28D-Ill.%29+encourages+attendees+to+share+information+on+resources+with+friends+and+family.+Schakowsky+spoke+Saturday+at+%E2%80%9CHelping+Hands%2C%E2%80%9D+a+local+inaugural+event+meant+to+make+residents+more+aware+of+the+social+welfare+services+available+to+them.+
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) encourages attendees to share information on resources with friends and family. Schakowsky spoke Saturday at “Helping Hands,” a local inaugural event meant to make residents more aware of the social welfare services available to them.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) encourages attendees to share information on resources with friends and family. Schakowsky spoke Saturday at “Helping Hands,” a local inaugural event meant to make residents more aware of the social welfare services available to them.

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) encourages attendees to share information on resources with friends and family. Schakowsky spoke Saturday at “Helping Hands,” a local inaugural event meant to make residents more aware of the social welfare services available to them.

Alan Perez, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In light of federal efforts to dismantle some social welfare programs, local officials and representatives held an inaugural resource fair Saturday to alleviate residents’ concerns about accessing services.

“Helping Hands” — a community event at Niles West High School organized by Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) — targeted families in Evanston, Niles, Morton Grove and Skokie.

Schakowsky told The Daily the event was meant to help residents understand what resources are available to them. She said gathering agencies and organizations in one venue made that possible.

“Getting local officials who are often more trusted than people in Washington to invite people to come and get things that they need is incredibly important,” Schakowsky said. “There’s all kinds of things that I think people don’t necessarily even think are available. That’s why I want to just get people in the door to see what there is.”

Representatives from dozens of government agencies and local organizations in the area were present to discuss health care, legal, housing and other general welfare resources with attendees.

Flu shots, hot dogs and family activities were made available, as was information on underwater mortgage assistance, Affordable Care Act enrollment and immigrant rights.

The event demonstrated a “comprehensive approach” to providing resources by elected officials, Debra Lawrence, a marketing communications manager, told The Daily. Lawrence represented Business and Career Services, Inc., which offered information on tools, services and connections for people seeking employment.

The concentration of resources, Lawrence said, made it easier for people to access services. Residents often have varying needs and the event ensured they didn’t have to visit different locations to get help, she said.

Skokie resident Satish Chander told The Daily because federal programs are under threat, it’s important for local officials to organize events like these.

President Donald Trump’s plans to cut Medicaid subsidies, the elimination of a medical expense deduction through a proposed tax bill and the failed ACA repeal have created fear, Chander said. He added the resource fair helped clarify residents’ options going forward.

“It’s OK if one door is closed — there is another door open,” the retired finance consultant said. “Before a crisis in the community, our local leaders are already up to the mark. They’re already out with the information. … There are local not-for-profit organizations, there are local government agencies who are ready to help you.”

Still, organizing resource fairs is only part of the effort.

At Saturday’s event, representatives from organizations outnumbered resident attendees. In the future, Chander said, community members must take advantage of resources so local officials can “rightfully” ask for more from the federal government.

Chander proposed inviting resource representatives to already-scheduled community events with guaranteed high attendance.

Schakowsky said she hopes to increase attendance at future events and that she was open to the idea of holding an additional fair. During her speech, Schakowsky also urged present residents to relay the information they received to family, friends and neighbors.

Though the initiative has room for improvement, Chander said hearing from representatives was beneficial for both him and the community at large.

“I had fear when I walked in, (but) I have no fears when I’m walking out,” he said. “We will work together. We will survive together.”

Email: alanperez2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @_perezalan_

Comments