The dangers of hazing, vaping and human trafficking are among the 20 workshop topics that will be presented by area experts at the 18th annual People in Need Form from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 26 at McHenry County College.
All residents are invited to learn about the abundance of resources available for those in need.
The forum showcases community resources for individuals, human service agencies, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, first responders, school personnel, elected officials, health care providers, caregivers and various volunteer opportunities.
New this year is an opportunity for participants to attend up to three workshops instead of two, said Bev Thomas, coordinator of events and outreach for the Friends of MCC Foundation, which organizes the conference.
“Each year, we receive overwhelmingly positive responses from participants,” Thomas said. “We’ve heard from many community members who found the workshop topics so interesting and informative that they wanted to attend more, so we added a third workshop option for them,” Thomas said.
The forum features experts from a variety of community groups that are available in the area to help individuals in need through networking, panel discussions and workshops.
Topics for the event include workshops covering homelessness, suicide prevention, stress relief, human trafficking, LGBTQ issues and challenges, the dangers of vaping, opioids, teen anxiety and other teen issues, resources for transitional age youth with developmental disabilities, fall prevention, fraud prevention, Medicare, food insecurity and family law.
Also new this year is “Healing our Hearts and Mind: A Conversation About Race,” which will be presented in a discussion format with participation by those in the attendance at this particular session.
The event will host more than 100 exhibitors, where attendees will have the opportunity to talk with agency staff and pick up useful information.
“What makes this event so significant is the vast community support and involvement,” Thomas said, adding that more than 75 volunteers will be available to serve in many different capacities.
Volunteers will be on hand as greeters, exhibitor assistants, hallway guides, registration clerks, room monitors and setup and takedown crews.
“It is everyone pitching in together that makes the People in Need Forum a sincere gift to the community,” Thomas said.
The forum began in 2001 as a way to match resources with needs in the community, and it has grown from 25 to more than 700 attendees each year.
“The event grew out of a small group of concerned church volunteers and MCC staff members who saw the need for not only connecting our friends and neighbors with critical resources to help them live better lives, but connecting professionals with each other and helping them to become better informed,” Thomas said.
“The People in Need Forum is an amazing event where you can interact with social service agencies and attend informative breakout sessions,” said exhibitor and Steering Committee member Amy Carzoli of Aurora University. “It’s inspiring to witness the collaboration and partnerships among agencies to benefit those in need in our county.”
“Attending the People in Need Forum for my first time two years ago reaffirmed my thought of how much people care for their neighbors in McHenry County,” said Denise Yager, an outreach volunteer for Resurrection Catholic Church.
Attendees will receive a folder and flash drive with a comprehensive and updated community resource directory, which is the only one of its kind in the Chicago area.
The event is free and open to the public. Registration and light refreshments will begin at 8 a.m. in the Luecht Conference Center in Building B at the college.