Electronics Waste Recycling and Paper Shred Event at Waukegan Public Library on April 19

Post date: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 10:36am

To celebrate Earth Day, the Waukegan Public Library’s Off the Grid (OTG) team is hosting a free recycle event for paper and electronic waste on Saturday, April 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot behind the library on the corner of Clayton Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue.

Electronics and computer equipment to be collected include wires & cables, circuit boards, monitors, VCRs, DVDs, cameras, gaming consoles, modems, and telephones. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified most electronic scrap as hazardous waste. Improper disposal adds dangerous amounts of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, and toxic chemicals into the country’s landfills. Electronic and computer items will be collected by Midwest Computer Recycling, Inc., and broken down into components for reuse and/or refurbishment.

Up to 9,000 pounds of paper will be shredded by a mobile truck run by Opportunity Secure Data Destruction (OSDD). The truck has a camera so that you can see the shredding in action. Paper can have staples, regular paper clips and rubber bands, but no large metal, plastic, x-rays, or batteries. OSDD takes all shredded paper to the paper mill for pulping and recycling.

OTG is a committee of Waukegan Public Library employees who meet monthly to discuss green initiatives in the library, such as implementing recycle drives for the needy in the community, developing Earth Week activities for staff and patrons, coordinating field trips to organizations who practice environmental initiatives, and planning an annual staff farm-to-table luncheon and bake off.

This will be the first recycle event at the Waukegan Public Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Get Covered by Midnight at Waukegan Public Library

Post date: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 4:23pm

Library will stay open until midnight on Monday, March 31 to enroll residents in health insurance available through the Affordable Care Act

The March 31 deadline for uninsured residents to enroll in one of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace health plans is less than two weeks away and the Waukegan Public Library is planning to stay open until midnight that day to enroll as many residents as possible.

Out of 28 enrollment sites around Lake County, the Waukegan Public Library is one of the leading locations, signing up over 550 residents in health insurance since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was put into effect last October. The library is part of acounty-wide initiative to increase access to healthcare for Lake County residents called Enroll Lake County, headed by the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and the Alliance for Human Services.

The Waukegan Public Library will be the only Lake County location open until the midnight deadline. Bilingual navigators will be available for scheduled appointments, group sessions, and drop-in enrollment. Under the ACA, every individual in the country must have insurance by midnight, or they will face a fine of $95 or 1% of their annual income. Those who miss the deadline will have to wait for the next enrollment period although there are exceptions made for life changes such as a birth in the family, the loss of a job or a divorce.

“As navigators we have been able to change the lives of so many of our community members who were uninsured and seeing the smile on their faces when they receive their new health insurance cards in the mail is priceless,” said Tatiana Alonso, Waukegan Public Library Promotora/Ambassador Coordinator and Affordable Care Act Navigator. “It is an honor to be able to provide this joy to so many families in our community.”

In addition to its commitment to helping residents obtain health insurance, the Library also offers a bilingual Functional Health Literacy Navigation class, which teaches Lake County residents about their right to be healthy, including healthy eating habits to prevent illness and how to build trust with medical caregivers. The class is paid for by the Building Bridges through Health Navigation grant funded by the Health Care Foundation of Northern Lake County in partnership with the Alliance for Human Services.

“Knowing how to navigate the health care system is essential to our community, especially when almost 72,000 Lake County adults are uninsured,” said Richard Lee, Waukegan Public Library Executive Director. “As a library, our mission is to ensure that our patrons have access to the information and resources that they need to be successful. When access to health care is a barrier to that success, we must do what we can to remove the obstacles. Health literacy has become one of our most important initiatives.”

Although navigators will be on hand to accommodate drop-ins, the library is encouraging individuals to make an appointment. Residents should bring identification, their most recent paycheck stub, and social security card. To make an appointment or get more information, contact Tatiana Alonso at (847) 623-2041, ext. 273 or talonso [at] waukeganpl [dot] info.

In addition to health insurance sign-ups, all regular library services will be available until midnight, including book and movie checkout, computer and internet access, and fax service.

Carmen Patlan: Waukegan library employee goes above and beyond to serve Hispanic population

Post date: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 11:51am

Carmen Patlan emigrated from a rural town in Mexico to the United States at age 7.

For Patlan, the move to Waukegan with her family provided many firsts – running water, electricity, a library and access to education.

Upon arriving in Wauekgan, Patlan could not speak English, which is why she understands the hardships that non-native speakers face after settling in a new country.

Since growing up in Lake County, the Beach Park resident said she has always empathized with others’ hardships.

In November 2011, Patlan and other members of Waukegan’s Most Blessed Trinity Parish, opened The House of Peace Domestic Violence Shelter, a domestic abuse shelter for Hispanic women and children in North Chicago.

Artwork by the shelter’s clients hang in Patlan’s office at the Waukegan Public Library, where Patlan worked as community engagement and outreach manager – creating opportunities for the local Hispanic community to learn English – since 2011.

Patlan knows the value of hard work, being born into a life of scarcity and then surviving in a new country. After graduating high school, Patlan worked at Abbott Laboratories; but, after 20 years of corporate America, and a few years after that of running a boutique, she realized that she wanted to do more for those in her community.

A chance encounter in a courtroom inspired Patlan to become a Lake County courts interpreter.

“I saw a lady [in a courtroom] scared to death,” she said. “She asked me, ‘Could you help me? I don’t know how to speak English.’”

Patlan inquired about a court interpreter program the same day, and was hired on the spot.

“I began to see the struggle and my eyes were open to the reality this community is struggling with – the inability to speak English, the inability to drive without getting pulled over – they didn’t know the way the system operates and works,” she said.

Waukegan has a Hispanic population that is three times higher than the state average, with 55 percent of residents speaking a language other than English at home. Twenty percent do not speak English, and another 25 percent are not fluent.

But, as a courts interpreter Patlan could not educate clients about the law.

“I couldn’t take it anymore, seeing that I could not advocate for these individuals,” Patlan said.

In 2007, Patlan was offered the position of social concerns director with Most Blessed Trinity Parish. After accepting the job in May that year, she was soon fielding calls left and right from Hispanic immigrants asking about their rights.

Patlan soon was working 60-hour weeks, beyond what the position required.

Soon, Patlan also began seeing victims of domestic violence, many with nowhere else to turn.

“I began to advocate [for these women] and found it very difficult to find shelter for them, because of their status and because they did not speak English,” she said.

Seeing a need, Patlan along with other parish members, began researching what it would take to open a domestic abuse shelter. The House of Peace, the culmination of their hard work, opened in 2011.

Dennis Mudd, a past deacon at Most Blessed Trinity, said Patlan “walked with [the women and children] and accompanied them every step of the way. She listened to them, and had the courage to call on others to do the same.”

To provide new ways for the women to express themselves, Patlan started an art therapy program.

“The women always see the sunrise as a new day for them, and they are beautiful inside,” Patlan said about the tranquil images.

In order to sustain the shelter’s budget, Patlan resigned so that the parish could hire a licensed therapist.

She didn’t know what she would do next, until she was offered a job at Waukegan Public Library that included a specific mission – get more Hispanics engaged in library programming.

Patlan launched the Promotoras Ambassador Program, a key initiative of the library’s Path to Literacy and Learning program, which engages Hispanic community members.

Through the Promotoras Ambassador Program, Patlan helped created conversational ESL classes at the library. Since the classes launched two years ago, 455 students have participated.

“When they hear library, they think ‘liberia,’ which is book store,” she said. “We’re saying, ‘This is your biblioteca.’ They’re not used to services that are free.”

Executive Director of Waukegan Public Library Richard Lee said Patlan has been instrumental in helping the library meet all of its community members’ needs.

“Since hiring Carmen, attendance at the library’s bilingual classes and programs have increased by almost 50 percent,” Lee said. “She is a constant inspiration as we continue to break down the barriers that hold the community back and ensure that everyone, no matter where they came from or what language they speak, has every chance at being successful.”