At the Proviso Township main office, 4565 Harrison St. in Hillside, Forest Park residents can receive several services, including being able to register to vote, schedule a handyman to come to their home for just $5, receive a free ride to the doctor and more.
At the Hillside office, some seniors can apply for a $75 discount on their license plates, “ride free” permits on Metra trains and PACE buses, food stamps and Medicaid.
The township also schedules senior trips to places like casinos, the Chicago architectural tour, Brookfield Zoo and more. On August 21—National Senior Citizen Day—Proviso Township will host a health and resource fair with vendors from several community agencies, offer health screenings and attendees can receive free hot dogs.
In addition to senior trips, Proviso Township has 18 vehicles with which they provide free rides to seniors who live in the township. Call 708-344-7430 to register with them and become eligible for the service. The vehicles are not wheelchair accessible, and clients must be able to move from an assistance device to the vehicle on their own. Caregivers over 21 are allowed to accompany clients.
Roxanne Lesus, the township’s deputy assessor, said that, while the Cook County Assessor performs the actual assessments of properties, she can help clients fill out appeals, receive homeowners exemptions or a senior tax freeze. Her office saw 11,000 clients last year and, in July, the count was 150 a day.
Carlos Vilchis, the township’s handyman director, can also schedule a handyman to visit residents’ homes for up to 45 minutes at a cost of just $5. During this time of year, he said people are asking the four handymen employed by the township to bring water hoses and lawn furniture outside, repair water spigots and window frames and install air conditioning units. The township is able to schedule up to 20 visits a day, and Vilchis reported that last year his handymen made close to 2,300 visits. Right now, he said, appointments need to be made at least two weeks in advance and that handymen do not do landscaping.
Jesse Rosas, the executive director of the township’s mental health commission, explained that he does not use any of his $3 million annual budget to provide mental health care. What he uses the money for is to help fund 20 township agencies which provide 53 different mental health programs.
For example, former Mayor Anthony Calderone recently called Rosas saying that Forest Park police had encountered an elderly woman who was a danger to herself and the building in which she lived because she was a hoarder. Her apartment was apparently stuffed knee deep in items. Rosas recommended that the police refer her to the part-time social worker provided by Presence Behavioral Health, which his department partially funds.
Rosas compared his department to a referral service, saying that institutions like schools and police departments can’t keep track of all the mental health resources out there, but his department can. He said people should call him at 708-449-5508 when they encounter mental health issues and let him use his vast knowledge of what is available to connect them with the resource they need.
He said that, because the township is relatively small and rooted locally, his department is flexible and can address issues as they arise by how they allocate their budget on a yearly basis.
Another example of how the township’s mental health department responds to pressing issues is how it addressed the recent rash of teen suicides. The youth services department works with the mental health commission to perform screenings, and serve as dispatchers to direct township members to the resources they need.
Rosas also scheduled workers from the nonprofit Elyssa’s Mission to visit middle schools, perform assessments of students and identify children who are at risk. That way, said Rosas, the department can get ahead of the game and are able to treat children before they are in crisis.
Lorenzo Webber, assistant to the director for youth services, explained that the nonprofit youth services Search Institute determines the 40 programs his department funds, promoting services that support positive family communication, parent involvement in schooling and adult role models. He aims to help children develop integrity, honesty, responsibility and a positive view of the future.
One of the ways to work toward those goals is to work with the Park District of Forest Park to fund the Proviso Idol singing competition, the finals of which are held at Proviso West High School. The winner receives a $700 cash prize.