Program Description: The parish’s Community Social Services began over twenty years ago as a community soup kitchen in Waukegan and has grown over the years into a permanent multi-facility social service offering year round emergency shelter, a soup kitchen, food pantry operations, education, counseling and support. The mission of Community Social Services is “To welcome and assist all of our brothers and sisters who are unable to meet their daily living needs of food, clothing and shelter, while focusing on programs to help each of them to become self-sufficient and to live in society with dignity, independence and pride as productive members.” In line with its mission, all of Community Social Services’ programming addresses the needs of the poor and marginalized. One key initiative we wish to highlight is the Fr. Gary Graf Center program.
The Fr. Gary Graf Center offers education and assistance to immigrant individuals and families so they may fully integrate in their communities as American citizens. To this end, the Fr. Gary Graf Center provides English as a Second Language education, GED, Spanish literacy, civics education, legal aid and citizenship naturalization application processing. The Fr. Gary Graf Center partners with HACES to connect foreign-born individuals with the public benefits for which they qualify. The Center also partners with the Center for Economic Progress to provide free tax preparation to low-income families, with the College of Lake County to provide ESL and GED education, and with Catholic Charities to provide legal aid in the areas of family re-unification, VAWA and U-Visas.
By fostering individuals' knowledge gain and providing the education and resources necessary, we create a pathway to help individuals to become fully functioning citizens in the Lake County community. Because of the Center’s success in the Lake County community, the Archdiocese of Chicago has replicated this program through the creation of a Catholic Immigrant Center serving the Little Village/Pilsen area of Chicago.
For volunteer opportunities or for more information, please contact the Fr. Gary Graf Center at 847-775-0858.
FR. GARY GRAF CENTER
510 10th. St.
Waukegan, IL 60085