Category Archives: Social Services

County Wage Changes Affect Berwyn

By Jonathan De Leon

An increase in the minimum wage for Cook County workers has employees in Berwyn happy and business leaders shaken.

Almost half a million workers in suburbs and unincorporated areas would be affected.  Every July the minimum wage will increase progressively from $8.25 now to $13 in 2020. Starting July 1, 2017, the wage will increase to $10 an hour and then by $1 each year after. Continue reading

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Mission House Café Serves Coffee and Compassion

by Lauren Pinkston



Mission House Café, tucked away in a renovated Victorian home in South Berwyn, brings customer service and community outreach together by using profits from serving food and beverages to benefit local and global charities.

The café’s handcrafted refreshments and rustic atmosphere makes it stand out from the average coffee shop.

Berwyn’s Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church runs the café; its children’s pastor, Joshua Brniak, manages it on a day-to-day basis.

“My goal as the manager is to provide a warm and inviting environment while serving the highest quality coffee and food around, meet and build connections within our community, and provide a meeting place for people from all walks of life,” Brniak said. Continue reading

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Pav YMCA Hosts Snow Days for South Berwyn Students

by Lauren Pinkston

Berwyn working parents now have a safe and supervised place to take their students during district emergency closings. Stephanie Robinson, School Age Childcare and Family Director at Pav YMCA, collaborates with South Berwyn district 100 to host a “fun-filled,” emergency closing day when the district cancels school.

“This is a great way for parents to know their child is safe, while they’re at work,” Robinson said, “It is convenient and we allow drop ins, so those parents who cannot take the day off when their children are out of school have a place where their child can go.”

During inclement weather closings, school-aged children are invited to engage in a variety of entertaining activities while their parents are away at work.

“Our program starts at 6:30 a.m. and goes until 6:00 p.m. From 6:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. our staff takes registration and plays board games, cards, or other quiet activities,” Robinson said, “9 a.m. – 4 p.m. is our program time where we swim, play in our gym, do art projects, and engage all of the children in a large group activity.”

The event hosts about 10-20 children on average and costs $20 or $25 for members and nonmembers respectively. The YMCA has hosted emergency closing days on Jan. 7, Jan. 5, Feb. 2, and Feb. 19 this school year.

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Berwyn Annual Healthy Heart Fair makes a change

By Elisa Juliano

Berwyn’s annual Healthy Heart Fair will not include a blood drive this year.

“This will be the first Healthy Heart Fair where we don’t have a blood drive,” said Tina Kloess, the registered nurse of the Berwyn Public Health District.

Kloess explained that it was too difficult for participants to fast 12 hours before their appointments and then donate blood.

“To give blood you need to make sure you’ve had a nice meal and are well hydrated,” said Kloess.

Kloess said that a blood drive would be held in the future.

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Youth organizations help the needy


By Anthony Garcia

Young people in Berwyn are taking the lead in bringing the holiday spirit to the less fortunate in Berwyn through organizations like Youth Crossroads and CIACO.

The non-profit Youth Crossroads is dedicated to helping the troubled or at-risk youth of Berwyn through any means necessary, 0providing free counseling and leadership programs and hosting events for the children and their families.

During the holiday season however, the young people helped by the organization look to give back to Berwyn, said Programs Director Joel Wallen.

“Throughout the year, they participated in dozens of volunteer opportunities in partnership with local governments, park districts and other social service agencies. When we presented the opportunity to help distribute food on Thanksgiving Day, it just seemed natural for them to volunteer,” Wallen said. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Health, Leisure and Recreation, Seasonal, Social Justice, Social Services

“Draw like a pro” draws Berwyn youth to library

By Anthony Garcia

At the Berwyn library, you can check out books featuring cartoons, drawing and coloring. Now you can learn how to draw those same

Marty McGowan teaching how to draw like a pro

wacky figures, monkey-pirates and anime warriors yourself.

The Youth Services department at the library recently had its “Draw like a pro” event on Nov. 17 where kids from ages 12-18 were able to practice and learn how to draw from local graphic designer, Marty McGowan.

Participants were encouraged to draw whatever they felt, no matter their level of skill.

Marissa Garcia, a youth services librarian explained the origin of the program idea.

“I sensed that there will always be creative souls among any community of young adults, so when I was considering programming ideas, I knew this group just needed an outlet,” Garcia said.

“Creative pursuits can often be solitary, but doing programming for young artists and wordsmiths allowed them to come out of the woodwork and join their passions with social interaction and learn in the process,” she said. Continue reading

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Hone your computer skills at the BPL

By Jackie Glosniak

Does someone you know have problems with basic computer applications? Or, are you yourself looking for help when navigating the latest web programs? If so, the Berwyn Public Library has the solution for you.

Throughout the year, the Outreach Department of the Berwyn Public Library offers Computer Tutoring sessions for adults who struggle to keep up with the latest changes in computer technology and have questions about using software and social media programs.

The service focuses on what it calls “self-guided study,” in which patrons can come to the library and work on the proficiency skills they wish to develop alongside the assistance of a computer instructor. The tutoring program caters especially to first-time computer users, who wish to practice typing, sending emails, and utilizing the Microsoft Office 2010 programs. The service also works with people who may have basic computer skills but are seeking to brush up on using the latest online networks, including the popular Facebook.

People of all ages are welcome to attend, and are able to bring either their own personal laptop or use computers provided by the library.

The next computer tutoring sessions will be held on Nov. 28 and 29 at 10 a.m., Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 5 and 6 at 10 a.m.

Seating at the tutoring sessions are limited, and those who wish to attend the program are highly encouraged to register ahead of time. For more information on computer tutoring, patrons can contact the Berwyn Public Library at (708) 795-8000.

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SCORE to offer help for local businesses

By Anthony Garcia

Starting up a new business isn’t easy, with customer service, marketing and dozens of other tasks. But Berwyn startups now have help.

On Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., SCORE, a Chicago resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration will be offering free business counseling to anyone interested.

SCORE will offer a variety of tips including how to begin a plan of attack for startup businesses and offer help to existing businesses seeking to further grow and expand. SCORE will also give feedback to people who want to showcase product or service. Continue reading

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Building blocks and minds at Berwyn library

By Anthony Garcia

Legos and building blocks have long been in a Toys R’ Us near you and now at the Berwyn Public Library on 2701 Harlem Ave., where multi-colored towers and buildings have become the norm.

The Berwyn Public Library Youth Services have been hosting several events at the library based around the creativity of kids from age 7-12 since early September.

Many of the Lego building events have specific themes as well such as a Back-to-school theme and Halloween as well.

Marissa Garcia, a Youth Services Librarian at the Berwyn library explained how the idea of Lego @ your library began.

“The original introduction of the Lego @ your library program was brought to us by one of our past Youth Services librarians, Jackie Warkentien. She was very in tune with the current trend, as Lego programs have popped up at many public libraries as of late,” Garcia said. Continue reading

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Knitting for a Good Cause

By Jackie Glosniak

While knitting  may just be a relaxing past time for some, one group of Berwyn women has turned their hobby into a wholehearted effort for charitable causes.

On the first and second Sat. of each month, the Knitting and Crochet Guild of Berwyn meets at the Berwyn Public Library, creating outerwear, blankets, and more for many local charities.

Josephine Tucci founded the Guild 9 years ago, fueled by both her passion for knitting and her yearning to help other out.

“We make blankets for Project Linus, and hats, mittens, and slippers for PADS shelters,” Tucci explained. “We have also made scarves for the Special Olympics in the past.”

The Guild also frequently hosts fundraiser sales to raise money to buy yarn for their charity work.

“Out next event is on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Second Floor Elevator Lobby here at the library,” Tucci said.

At the sale, tables will be set up featuring all of the Guild’s most recent creations, and donations are also greatly accepted.

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by | November 17, 2012 · 10:53 pm

West Suburban PADS Housing The Homeless

By: Lavell Garner

A chronically homeless man now has a place to stay, thanks to West Suburban PADS. The organization hopes to get two more homeless people housed this month. PADS organization submitted their numbers to the 100kHomes organization

The 100KHomes organization is a national movement, campaigning with national and local partners in hopes of bringing homelessness to an end.

Susie Bohun, the supportive housing manager at West Suburban PADS, explained the process in which an individual must complete to be able to be considered for housing.

“The process to assist individuals in obtaining housing varies greatly based on client desire and participation in the process, income level (not every client has income, so finding housing becomes very challenging), and locating an appropriate housing option”, she said.

It took three months to get housing for the most recent case, she said.

“The entire process took about three3 months from start to finish. If we have to assist clients with obtaining identification or trying to figure out if they may be eligible for some type of income, the process can take longer. It really depends on the person”, said Bohun.

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Berwyn Sheds Light on Domestic Abuse

By Jackie Glosniak

A recent shooting in Berwyn has led authorities to urge residents to be vigilant about the signs of domestic abuse, and to take action when they see it.

Earlier this month, a suicide and attempted murder struck the North Berwyn community. During the early morning hours on Oct. 5, a man shot and wounded a woman before killing himself in a home in the 1300 block of Home Avenue. When Berwyn Police arrived at the scene, they found two victims bleeding from their faces.

Juan Quezada, 35, of Westchester, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the mouth and was pronounced dead on the scene. Before turning the gun on himself, Quezada shot his 30-year-old wife. The woman, whose name was not released, was immediately taken to an area hospital, but had no life-threatening injuries.

At the time of the shooting, the two victims were separated. The wife had recently moved to Berwyn with her three young sons-all under the age of 10. The sons were sleeping during the shooting and were not harmed.

According to Berwyn Police Commander James Sassetti, the police had not received any prior phone calls from the house or from neighbors suspecting trouble. No neighbors had reported seeing anything suspicious in the month that the mother and her sons had lived in the house, he said.

Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero said domestic abuse is a perennial issue. Continue reading

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New Berwyn Group helps Community Face Challenge

Teens and young adults tackle one of the largest health concerns facing Berwyn and Cicero—HIV— with a new group—RAICES.

RAICES, meaning “roots” in Spanish is an acronym for Resources, Advocacy, Inclusion, Community, Education and Services. The group, in its early stages, was founded to bring HIV awareness to these two communities. The group also supports community members who identify with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community and provides public services for them. Continue reading

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Berwyn Public Library offers one-on-one Resume assistance Service

By: Lavell Garner

Job-hunting individuals can get help leveling up their resumes from the Berwyn Public Library starting Sept. 22.

The free one-on-one program begins at 9:30 a.m. with 15-minute individual sessions ending at 11 a.m. Another session will start at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 29.

Reference Librarian Verna Austen, said the resume program grew out of a “Reserve a Librarian” program in which librarians would help people on a wide variety of topics, such as helping patrons with basic internet etiquette. A lot of people asked for the resume service, Austen said.

Resume-polishers don’t need an appointment, but do need to bring copies of their resume, or a list of recent job responsibilities, and a flash drive to save work.

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Initiatives to Stop the Crimes

By Jackie Glosniak

With the interesting mix of crimes Berwyn has experienced in the past month, police want to ensure that the public is safe and encourage residents to participate in Neighborhood Watch.

During past few weeks, the suburb has seen a restaurant robbery, a mugging at gunpoint, and several arrests for guns and drugs.

  • On Aug. 21, three men robbed Lolita’s Mexican Food at 6320 Ogden Ave., but escaped with only a small amount of money.
  • On  Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, three separate arrests took place for drug and weapon crimes. One man was arrested for selling two handguns along with 729 grams of cocaine with a street value around $219,000 to undercover officers. Two other men were arrested for selling 600 grams and 450 grams of marijuana to undercover officers and also charged with growing and delivery of the substance. These men were targeted by Berwyn Police and Cook County Sheriff’s deputies in a months-long street gang investigation, according to the Berwyn Police Department.
  • On Sept. 2, two men robbed a Berwyn mat at gunpoint near 27th St. and Harvey Ave., taking the $1,119 the victim was taking to pay his rent

Berwyn police have responded to the crimes, Lt. James Sassetti said.

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CIACO members gather in Berwyn to provide local families with Thanksgiving dinners

Young and old lend helping hands to the assembly line.

Buona Beef’s catering warehouse was a sea of volunteers in red and green shirts, on Sunday, Nov. 21st in Berwyn, IL, all surrounded by piles and boxes full of $16,500 worth of food.

The crowd of more than 150 people slowly formed into an assembly line, ready to put together “Baskets of Love.” Each participant had a certain role. Children were packing canned goods, adults were carrying potatoes bags, and teens were taping and carrying loaded boxes to delivery cars.

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First Lutheran Church becomes new PADS shelter

At first glance, First Lutheran Church on the 6700 block of 31st Street, is easily overlooked. There’s not much to it, just a dimly lit sign and an empty parking lot around the corner. It appears to be abandoned, despite the few people sitting on the church steps, talking quietly amongst themselves.

But starting last Saturday First Lutheran Church took on new life as a safe haven for homeless people thanks to an organization called West Suburban PADS. Continue reading

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Berwyn helping the homeless

As Winter edges closer so do the longest nights for the homeless. Back in March, Berwyn’s public library began buying up bus passes to give to the homeless. The library has to close at night and that means kicking out people that have nowhere to go. The intention of the passes are to give someone the means to find an overnight shelter or to at least find somewhere that’s warm and open at night.

West Suburban PADS, an organization that provides the homeless with shelter and housing, currently operates two emergency overnight shelters in Berwyn. St. Mary of Celle Church located on 1428 Wesley Ave. operates every Saturday. First Lutheran Church on 6720 31st St. operates every third and fourth Saturday of the month. Both shelters open their doors at 7:30 p.m. and close at 7:oo a.m., they provide dinner, breakfast and a to-go lunch.

Battling homelessness is no easy task, but organizations like West Suburban PADS are a good place to start.

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Local not-for-profit offers high employment rates for the disabled

Jerry Bach

Jerry Bach works as a meeter and greeter in Seguin's used car lot

The soft buzzing of Jerry Bach’s automatic wheel chair fills the silence. Bach, “like the composer” he says, works as a meeter and greeter at Seguin Services’ used car lot, the not-for-profit that supports children and adults with disabilities. The morning is a dull gray pierced only by the neon green stickers on the car windows, but Bach remains energetic despite that. His job entails welcoming, talking and helping customers look for cars. Although he admits that he doesn’t know the names of car models when asked. He isn’t your standard used car employee but he isn’t alone here either. Bach is one of 27 disabled employees currently working at Seguin Auto Center.

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