Q&A: Director of Evergreen Park Office of Citizens Services
Lifelong Evergreen Park resident Jolene Churak shares her plans for OCS this year.
Jolene Churak worked for an area convalescent center for 20 years in nursing administration before joining the Office of Citizens Services as the director in the Village of Evergreen Park. She currently operates OCS out of the Hamilton B. Maher Community Center. Immediately before becoming the director of OCS, Churak served as the assistant director for eleven years. She has worked as the Evergreen Park Farmers' Market Manager for the last seven years.
Churak received her Gerontology certificate from the University of Illinois. In addition to her posts at OCS and the Farmers' Market, she serves as president of the Village Pantry and is affiliated with the National Council on Aging, Association of Illinois Senior Centers, National Institute of Senior Centers, the PLOWS Council on Aging, and is a Salvation Army outreach volunteer.
Evergreen Park Patch: What is the current state of OCS and its interaction with the community?
Jolene Churak: The Office of Citizens' Services is a focal point in the village - we will be here when assistance is needed, we will be here to provide an avenue for individual enhancement through education, health, nutrition, recreation and social opportunities. OCS is fortunate to be able to work closely with the first director, Virginia Wrobel, and the second director Ann Dykstra. The department continues in the tradition of its beginnings, benefiting from the previous directors knowledge and expertise, to maintain tradition while moving forward, responsive to the needs and requests of village residents. Virginia and Ann live the volunteer spirit they fostered, although retired, they continue to contribute by serving on the council board, the evergreens, village pantry, historical committee, etc. Their input is sought and respected. OCS programs are self funded. Donations received fund programs specifically the mini bus and Meals on Wheels program. We are proud of the Double Nickel + Chorus and the Evergreeen Parkettes. They take their shows on the road to entertain others.
Patch: What are your main goals for OCS 2011?
Churak: To support our mission statement; to provide programs to our residents based on request and need.
Patch: How do you think OCS can improve?
Churak: Continue to provide and promote cost-effective group travel.
Patch: What new ideas or initiatives are you hoping to introduce this year?
Churak: Invite and provide a venue for State Senator Maloney and State Representative Kelly Burke to address our residents; invite School Districts 124 and 231 Superintendents/Principals/Board Members; Have Christmas in July Craft Group to make more wreaths; grow Income Tax Program and Computer Internet Cafe'.
Patch: What are your top longer-term priorities as director of OCS?
Churak: Continue to work with the Senior Council "Memories to Go" garage sale project; to fundraise/supplement mini-bus transportation program and Meals on Wheels program; expand volunteer program by encouraging newly retired residents to share their expertise through volunteer service to the community; utilize this experience to develop programs of interest to inspire participation; keep up with ever-changing technology; continue to grow--as space allows--the EP Farmers' Market which begins it's seventh season in 2011. Continue to adhere to this: "Living Longer, Living Well, Be Productive, Be Happy and Keep Moving," while remembering to love and smile.