YWCA services for families and immigrants now available in McHenry County

All services are free and available to anyone, YWCA says

YWCA Northwestern Illinois employees celebrate the opening of the new Crystal Lake office at 8600 Route 14.

The YWCA Northwestern Illinois officially extended its reach to McHenry County during a grand opening celebration this week. The new Crystal Lake location, at 8600 Route 14, will provide free services to families, women, children and immigrants through its Illinois Welcoming Center and Family Advocacy Center programs.

The Illinois Welcoming Center is a program that connects immigrant people and families to local services and has been running in the county since 2021, YWCA Immigrant Services Director Diego Valdivia said. The program is averaging about 450 clients per year, he said.

The Welcoming Center can help new residents get adjusted to the country by getting connected with local churches, agencies and food pantries. Case managers can help break language barriers by translating and explaining school systems, health care and court cases, Valdivia said. The program can help with Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian languages, case manager Anyi Pardo said.

The Family Advocacy Center opened in July and provides clients classes in parenting, financial literacy, budgeting and job coaching, YWCA Family Services Director Kristian Wanland said. Many of their clients are referred to them by the Department of Children & Family Services, but the program is open to anyone, she said. The family program is still getting its footing, and the organization is currently looking to hire a case manager, Wanland said. So far, they have been averaging about 15 cases at the Crystal Lake location, she said.

The current Crystal Lake location only has those two programs available, but other services like racial justice and literacy help could be offered in the future, YWCA Northwestern Illinois CEO Kris Machajewski said. “Our goal is to expand out this office,” Machajewski said. “Now that we’re here and there’s a little more room, then we’ll start looking at expanding out other wrap-around services for families here.”

Before the Crystal Lake office opened, the nearest location was in Rockford. The YWCA Northwestern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that provides services to women, children and families in Boone, Jo Daviess, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties.

McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce ambassador Sally Santos said she is happy to see YWCA in the community to provide services that make the community more versatile and help younger generations grow. “They will help our community and culture grow,” she said.