See a Need, Fill the Need…

For over 20 years, the Partners for Our Communities, POC, has been committed to filling the various needs of its community members in a variety of ways. It is a vital resource in the community given its large number of services ranging from pre-school education to medical care. As it continued to serve its clients, the POC board and staff realized that there was a need in the creation and coordination of leadership and mentoring services at the POC. Clients were able to access services but lacked an action plan to continue towards a successful future. On the other hand, the POC noticed a group of strong women willing to give back to their community. These were women with their fingers on the pulse of the Palatine community and from all walks of life. POC’s director acted promptly and in 2010 created ROLE or Reaching Out, Lifting to Excellence.

Where it all begins…

Now that you know what ROLE stands for, here is a bit on how women become members of ROLE. Members enter ROLE either via the POC’s Women’s Leadership Classes or as active community providers or participants. The Women’s Leadership Classes are the veins of the ROLE program. They are aimed at helping Spanish speakers transition into active participation in the community. The classes touch upon a variety of subjects from self-esteem to building public policy and helping fill the needs in our communities. Students in the class are required to have an action plan. These plans can be personal action plans or community centered action plans. Personal action plans range from improving their health to furthering their education. Community centered action plans are aimed at bringing programs that the students believe are needed at the POC. Via these community centered action plans, students have been able to bring parenting workshops, exercise classes, book clubs, begin a community collaborative garden and many more programs to the POC. Students in the leadership classes are supported via POC’s wealth of resources and staff members. It is in these classes that talents are discovered and leaders are born! Once a student completes the leadership course, she may become involved in the ROLE program via her action plan. The leadership instructor, an active ROLE member and a behavioral health case-manager, is available to meet one on one with students. The instructor connects students with the resources they need to succeed well after they have completed the course.

Other women join ROLE because of their desire to help our community flourish. These women are active or retired professionals, staff members, board members, local business owners, teachers, POC providers and community activists that donate their time and talents to Reaching Out and Lifting others to Excellence. They discover ROLE through the direct efforts of the POC director, staff and through word of mouth.

And what exactly does ROLE do?

At the heart of ROLE are two main themes: 1) The idea that if we invest time and talent into positively affecting the life of a person in need, we have opened a world of possibilities and 2) the idea that if we continuously pay it forward, we will build strong communities. With this in mind, ROLE members are active in variety of ways at the POC. Members working on their own action plans for success take time out to help others achieve their educational goals as part of ROLE’s mentoring program. For example, women who have succeeded in obtaining their GED (general equivalency degree) at the POC and are currently enrolled in traditional college courses, return to the POC to tutor others in computer literacy or English literacy. Others are active community members who give of their time and talent to POC programs such as Day of the Child, fundraising, Artisan’s Market, after school tutoring, Learning Lab Tutors, Craft classes, Roots Community Garden, as on call volunteers and more.

If the Women’s Leadership Classes are the veins of ROLE, then the Learning Lab is the heartbeat of ROLE. It is at the Learning Lab that action plans take flight and mentoring relationships are built. Women seeking assistance in job search, English literacy, computer knowledge, citizenship tutoring and homework assistance build lasting relationships with mentors that are willing to give of their time and talent to help them succeed. Informational and outreach programs aimed at helping ROLE members and the community at large also take place in the Learning Lab. These include financial literacy classes, parenting workshops, computer skills seminars, job skills seminars and more. The Learning Lab is also the place to learn a new craft while giving back to the community. Depending on the time of the year, ROLE members can be found in the Learning Lab teaching others how to sew mittens. These one of a kind mittens are then sold for POC program fundraising. Or, you may find them teaching others how to crochet or create beautiful beaded jewelry. For many, these newly acquired crafts become a means of supplementing their family’s income. And, as of recent, ROLE members were working hard in the lab planting over 500 vegetable and herb seeds with local families for the ROOTS Community Garden. The Learning Lab makes all of these programs possible and in the process helps create lasting relationships.

Will you take an active role in ROLE?

The Partners for Our Communities (POC) is dedicated to continue to serve the women in our community through ROLE. And, ROLE understands that by empowering one woman we can empower a generation. While this program runs on countless hours of donated time and talents, it has a financial obligation to its staff and resources. Without these, direct services will not be available for ROLE members. These include, health and wellness services, case management, crisis counseling, educational services and much more. These services are pivotal in lifting women in need to self-sufficiency.

Every dollar raised and designated to ROLE will be used to help improve the lives of the women in our community and in return these empowered women will help create stronger communities now and in the future. Because of ROLE, women from all walks of life connect, dream, grow, succeed and give back to their communities.

Will you take an active role and help us continue to Reach Out and Lift others to Excellence? For more information contact: Kathy Millin, Director POC 1585 N. Rand Rd. Palatine, IL 60074 847-776-9500 X 1 [email protected]

Stay informed on ROLE activities by reading our seasonal newsletter, ROLE Call, below.