The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 15, 2013

Hispanic/Latino Awareness Fair planned

The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — The seventh annual Hispanic/Latino Awareness Fair at Danville Area Community College will provide valuable information as well as some family fun, too.

The free, family-oriented event sponsored by DACC is set for 3-6 p.m. Saturday in Bremer Conference Center at DACC.

Ana Nasser, director of DACC’s child development center, and Al Bello, director of radiology, have been involved with organizing the fair all seven years.

During the years, the two organizers have figured out what works and what doesn’t.

The first few fairs were staged in the morning and had a set agenda with speakers scheduled at certain times, but since the fair has moved to Saturday afternoons it has seen attendance steadily increase.

Last year, the fair drew more than 100 attendees, Nasser said.

The goal of the annual event is to connect community members to local community services and agencies and to encourage adults to continue their education, to help them with keys to success and to assist them with accessing resources to overcome barriers to education.

Another goal of the fair, according to Nasser, “is to promote inclusion and understanding on campus and in the community.”

Nasser said sometimes people don’t realize all the programs that are available to them in the community, so the fair is the perfect setting to let the Hispanic community know what is out there.

“It’s a way to inform the public about what is available in the community,” she said. “There will be lots of good information for everyone.”

Free information about education/English as a Second Language, health care, child care, social services, immigration, citizenship, driver’s licenses and deferred action will be available from at least 36 area and state agencies and organizations at the fair. When the fair first started, five agencies signed up.

“This year we have 36 agencies,” Nasser said. “We have a lot of new ones and special presentations from the governor’s office and secretary of state’s office.

“We have been trying to reach everyone,” she said of the efforts to organize this year’s fair. “This has been a very interesting year and a lot of work went into it. We’re very, very excited.”

According to Nasser, the “hot topics” at this year’s event that will attract the most people are TVDLs or Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses and the Affordable Care Act.

“The East Central Illinois Community Action Agency is going to provide information about the health care act,” Nasser said.

Other new agencies and organizations featured at this year’s fair will include the Girl Scouts; Citizens Utility Board, a watchdog group that provides information on how to save money on utilities and telephone bills; Vermilion Advantage; and Danville employers, Watchfire, Sygma and AutoZone.

“They are going to have information and job applications,” Nasser said of the local employers. “The Citizens Utility Board will be giving away light bulbs.”

The 36 or so organizations that will participate at this year’s fair include the Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois Department of Transportation, Boys and Girls Club, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Child Care Resource Services, City of Danville, Danville Family YMCA, Danville Soccer Association, University of Illinois Extension and its 4-H program, City of Danville, CRIS Healthy Aging Center, Eastern Illinois University and various DACC departments and programs, such as financial aid, TRIO, English as a Second Language, career services, citizenship program and the VITA program that helps individuals with tax preparation.

“We have agencies coming back this year, too,” Nasser said.

A returning participant at this year’s fair will be Patty Juarez, the Hispanic family liaison at District 118’s family resource center in the basement of the Jackson Building.

Just as in past years, food will be provided by La Potosina Restaurant, and the DJ group, Sonido Ilusion, will donate its time to provide background music, Nasser said.

A raffle of items donated by the agencies and organizations also will be held, she said. This year’s fair also will offer activities for youngsters including children’s crafts sponsored by the 4-H, Danville Public Library and the DACC Recruitment office.

FOR MORE INFORMATION The seventh annual Hispanic/Latino Awareness Fair is set for 3-6 p.m. Saturday, at Danville Area Community College's Bremer Conference Center. For more information, call 443-8833 or 443-8552.