Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Waukegan is about 30 miles north of downtown Chicago. It has recently become a hub for Planned Parenthood doctors traveling from Wisconsin to treat their patients since that state halted abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. wade.
Interactive map: More information on our community reporting series
Dr. Allison Linton travels once a week to Waukegan to care for her patients who she says cross the state line for various health services throughout the day.
Linton said the past month has been difficult, but she is grateful for the partnership between Illinois Planned Parenthood and Wisconsin to provide access to abortion.
“We are so focused on patients traveling from restricted states and that is certainly important when I think of patients who have to cross state lines for health care. At the same time, it impacts all patients,” Linton said. “It also impacts patients in Illinois. Patients who previously had access to abortion in their own state are afraid of these services because there are more people moving out of state and using these services.
Ann Taylor, Mayor of Waukegan said Illinois is and will continue to be a pro-choice state, with Waukegan following in those footsteps.
“It’s very important that women have the opportunity to come here and have the procedure they need,” Taylor said. “Planned Parenthood is also a very big part of our neighborhood in terms of other educational programs.”
Taylor is Waukegan’s first female mayor and hopes to be an example for other women.
“I want women to come out and follow in my footsteps in the future and understand that we are important in politics. Our voices matter,” Taylor said. “I’m so proud to be the first woman [mayor] of this city.
Video: Watch our full interview with Anne Taylor
Waukegan is about 20% African American and about 52% Latino, with many community organizations for its residents.
HACES is a non-profit organization in the region providing immigration services primarily to Spanish speakers.
According to founder Maria Elena Jonas, years ago people had to travel to Chicago to find services. Now, HACES helps community residents with citizenship, legal services, and a variety of educational courses.
Over the years, Jonas said the Latino community has become more involved, especially the younger generation.
“Two of my workers here – they just graduated from university and for the first time I heard, ‘I want to do more…I want to learn more, do more for my community,'” Jonas said. “I’m like ‘yes come on, let’s talk and we’ll give you the resources you need to give you more knowledge.'”
There is also a big push for healthier food options in pockets of Waukegan that are considered food deserts.
Greentown is growing is a grassroots organization where residents come together to tend the Madeline Fuqua Garden, which provides fresh vegetables to the community. Area businesses and organizations have partnered with the organization, with a program helping families build a garden in their own backyard.
“We accept referrals from area organizations and work with families,” said Linda Belles, executive director of Greentown Grows. “We’re setting up a garden and we have someone who will mentor you along the way…we’ve had this mentorship for three years now.”
Further down Grand Avenue, Waukegan in college helps first-generation students attend college. Founded in 2099, the organization helps students whose parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to college and helps students and families navigate the school system from fifth through 12e-to note.
“This year, 100% of our high school students in our class of 2022 were admitted to college, and nearly all are on full financial aid,” said Lauren Jilles-Johnson, president of Waukegan to College.
Aliyah Plummer is the first member of her family to attend college and said she started the program in high school. She now attends the University of Illinois at Springfield.
“I don’t know where I would be without this program. I don’t know if I would have gone to college and dropped out,” Plummer said. “I would say this program is absolutely essential because it provides you with the resources you never imagined, how to be independent and how to use where you grew up and your own culture to succeed in your career.”
There has also been a new wave of development in Waukegan. Locals say they are pushing for new entrepreneurs and business opportunities.
Building for The Temporary by American Place is already underway with plans to open this fall, while the permanent casino is expected to open by the end of 2025.
COO John Ferrucci of Full House Resorts said he expected to create up to 1,000 jobs, while working with the community.
“We host a job fair where we introduce ourselves to people in the community who are looking for a career with the company that’s just started,” Ferrucci said. “They can come with us to be on the ground floor and grow with us as we grow and so out of those 800 people we hired 100 this week. Just telling people to come talk to us.
The the job fair continues until Saturday along White Oak Drive.
Elizabeth Thielen, Senior Director of Nicasa Behavioral Health Servicessays that whenever there’s an expansion of the game in the community, it’s important for people to raise the questions: “What does this mean for me, for us? »
“If we’re looking to maximize benefits, the only way to do that is to minimize problem gambling.” said Thielen. “We have been the only treatment provider in Lake County since 2002 and offer individual, family and group counseling.”
Thielen shares that there has always been a need for gaming services in the community, even without a casino.
“(Gaming) is all around us, it’s even on our phones,” Thielen said. “If someone chooses to gamble, it’s important that they can look at their own risk factors and decide ‘Is this for me?’ If they choose to do so, ask how they can be safe…(and) more importantly, know where they can turn for help.
Video: Watch our full interview with Elizabeth Thielen
Community Report Series
“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re taking to the streets to talk with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we went and what we learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Dots in red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.