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.”

Gold Medal Gala introduces Library’s Literacy Initiatives

Post date: Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 9:39am

Waukegan Public Library celebrates its 2013 Institute of Museum and Library Services

National Medal with a silent auction and dinner

It has been almost one year since it was announced that the Waukegan Public Library was a prestigious Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Medal winner. To celebrate, the Library will host a Gold Medal Gala on Saturday, April 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Glen Flora Country Club in Waukegan, Illinois. The Gala will include a silent auction to benefit new and existing literacy initiatives at the library.

The evening will begin with a cocktail reception where guests will have a chance to mingle and bid on silent auction items. The cocktail reception will be followed by a plated dinner and a program that briefly introduces “Literacy 2020”, the Library’s plan to increase literacy levels by 25 percent by the year 2020.

The event also features special guest speaker Robert B. Barnett, leading attorney for premier authors, government officials, and major corporations. Barnett graduated from Waukegan Township High School in 1964 and is now ranked Number One on Washingtonian magazine’s list of “Washington’s Best Lawyers” and as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal. He was also named one of the one hundred most powerful people in the entertainment industry by Entertainment Weekly Magazine.

For me, the Waukegan Public Library meant Story Hour on Saturday mornings at the Carnegie Building on Sheridan, getting a library card and having access to books, the Bookmobile at the shopping plaza on Lewis Avenue in summer, and, most of all, the wonder, adventure, delight, and inspiration found in books,” said Barnett. “I am thrilled to be returning to the place where I discovered my love of reading.”

The Gala is being planned by the Waukegan Public Library Foundation Board, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which encourages voluntary financial support for the Waukegan Public Library. The purposes of the Foundation include focusing public attention on library services, facilities and needs in the Waukegan area.

The gala is a culminating celebration of Waukegan Public Library’s historic accomplishments, however, it’s also a collaborative initiative for the Foundation Board to continually support and prepare the citizens of Waukegan for 21st Century learning by promoting early learning, the campaign for grade level reading, college and career readiness, the creation of a dynamic workforce, and life-long learners. Our investment in this community is clearly targeted and worthy of a celebration,” said Verna Wilson, Foundation Board and Gala committee member and District Literacy Coordinator for Waukegan Public Schools.

“The ability to read affects everything from graduation rates to employment as well as crime, health care, and our overall standard of living. At the library, we are committed to creating a community of readers with our ‘Path to Learning and Literacy’. When our residents are successful, our city will be successful,” said Richard Lee, Executive Director of Waukegan Public Library.

Ticket prices are $100 for individuals and $800 for a table of eight with available program advertisement opportunities. The library is also looking for donations of silent auction items. For information on how to purchase tickets or become a sponsor through donations or advertisements, please contact Kim Vander Yacht at (847) 623-2041, ext. 244 or kvyacht [at] waukeganpl [dot] info or you can go to the event webpage.