Community Hub offered by the Palatine Coalition looking for more service providers
An effort to connect service providers and organizations in the Palatine region so they can more effectively serve those in need has reached a major milestone with the hiring of a part-time navigator.
Nancy Mendez started on January 10 as a navigator for the Community Hub offered by United Palatine Coalition.
The Community Hub is a centralized way for service providers to share information about their customers and track their needs to help them address any challenges they may face.
“We try to be proactive, not reactive, to people’s issues,” said Anne Campbell, community impact facilitator for the coalition.
For example, a client of a mental health agency may also need help with housing, food, clothing or rent. In that case — if the client agrees to disclose limited information in accordance with federal HIPAA privacy guidelines — the agency can use the Community Hub to help connect the client with other agencies, Campbell said.
Mendez, who speaks English and Spanish, will work to broaden participation in the Community Hub and help service providers maximize their benefits. So far, 16 agencies have joined the Community Hub. The goal is to reach 20 by March 31.
The coalition received two consecutive $100,000 annual grants from United Way of Metro Chicago, which paid for Mendez’s salary as well as CharityTracker case management software, the confidential tool used to share information between agencies.
Mendez also works as a youth pastor for a Spanish-speaking church in Wheeling. She called the Community Hub “an amazing tool.”
“If we can all come together and use it as it should, it will make everyone’s job easier and help people get the help they need,” she said.
Formed in 2016, United Palatine Coalition is a partnership of nonprofits, schools, local governments, faith communities, and health organizations with the primary goal of ensuring equal access to opportunities and equity within the community. Campbell’s was the only paid position until Mendez was hired.
Palatine can be described as “resource-rich and systems-poor,” said coalition board member Mike Thompson.
“The (local) agencies and government organizations have a lot of resources – financial and otherwise – that they spend on all sorts of things – schools, library – but we don’t work together very effectively. That’s where the coalition can help.”
The original goal was to reduce or eliminate by 2025 the achievement gap between students from low-income families and students with means, certainly “a mountain to climb in the long run”, said Thompson.
In 2018, the coalition and the Northwest Educational Council for Student Success hosted a conference highlighting suburban poverty. A quarter of children in the northwest suburbs were from low-income households and lacked the resources to meet their needs, experts said.
Coalition President Laura Swanlund works as the Director of Global Mental Health and Related Services for Palatine Elementary District 15. The coalition holds regular meetings for its partners, who are organized into working groups, and sends newsletters to alert services, information sessions and other opportunities for their customers, she says.
“All of our work is trying to make people’s lives better,” Swanlund said. “This is what we do.”