After listening to Director Karen Dylewski describe everything that happens at the Howard Mohr Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd., it would be easy to conclude that the list of what does not happen there would be shorter than the list of what does. Community center staff could well argue they returned a great value for the approximately $675,300 they receive in taxpayer dollars in fiscal year 2019.
The community center is perhaps best known in Forest Park for the services it provides to the seniors. Staff provide senior exercises courses, hold “Seniors Beware” informational programs about ways they could be victimized, free tax help, summer heat alert calls, and elder law seminars. As for transportation services, the community center can also connect seniors with discounted Blue Cab fares, PACE bus tickets and door-to-door bus service for senior or disabled residents. To support seniors’ medical needs, staff provide home visits, help completing Medicare forms, assisting access to benefits from Illinois Cares, referral to outside resources and help securing donated medical equipment. To feed seniors’ social needs, staff also take residents on shopping trips to local grocery stores, travel trips and hold movie and bingo nights.
Parents raising a family, however, might think of the community center more in terms of what the building kitty corner from the library has to offer them regarding programing for children and youth. Staff offer children before school, after school and summer daycare, homework help, field trips, an Easter celebration, and a youth gourmet cooking class.
For those in need, the community center acts as a resource that keeps them going. The food pantry, for example, not only gives food to hungry people but also delivers items to seniors, the disabled and shut-ins. They also have a clothes “pantry” stocked with donated socks, jackets, hats and more, as well as eyeglasses for families that can’t afford them.
People can also receive help applying for a $75 discount on license plates, food stamps, Medicaid, temporary disability placards, property tax appeals and a notary’s signature.
In addition to helping the needy secure food, clothes and support services, the community center also acts as Red Cross and Salvation Army sites that assist people with rent, utilities and emergency housing. Staff also help people apply for Low Income Home Energy Assistance, and work with the Cook County Social Service Department to provide work for residents who need court-ordered community service hours.
Finally the community center provides space for a voting precinct, the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Kiwanis Club, Historical Society, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Disabled American Veterans, an autism support group, an airplane club and mentoring group.
Call 708-771-7737 for help accessing any of the above resources.