Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017

Legal Services available at Harvard Diggins Library

Prairie State Legal Services will offer services from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursdays at the Harvard Diggins Library by appointment only.

The closest PSLS office to Harvard is in McHenry, which is too far for some residents of the Harvard area. Consequently, PSLS wanted to offer appointments to its clients at a location in Harvard.

PSLS is free for all clients, primarily senior citizens and low-income individuals. PSLS does not offer consultations regarding criminal, traffic or personal injury cases. Services available for PSLS clients include cases in family law, housing, debt, food stamps, orders of protection, consumer credit, bankruptcy, domestic abuse, divorce, Medicaid, home foreclosure, landlord problems, public benefits and disability.

Prospective clients can schedule an appointment at the library by calling the PSLS McHenry office at 815-344-9113 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays.

The staff at PSLS hopes that the community will be more inclined to use its services with the new library location in Harvard.

“I wanted to improve the access that our Harvard residents get to our service,” said Geraldine Dolan, managing attorney at PSLS.

The idea to offer appointments and consultations at the Harvard Diggins Library was spearheaded by David Stone, a retired attorney who has volunteered in the PSLS McHenry office for more than five years, and staff attorney Chelsea Wintersteen.

PSLS covers 36 counties in north and central Illinois, with 12 offices in those areas, not including Cook County. The main office is in Rockford. In 2004, PSLS opened a full-time office in Woodstock, and three years ago they moved to an office in McHenry located at 5320 W. Elm St.

Dolan is hopeful that the new location will broaden PSLS’s reach in the Illinois region.

“We are very excited about having this intake available in the Harvard community,” Dolan said. “It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to [starting].”

Stone and Wintersteen coordinated with Karen Sutera, director of the Harvard Diggins Library, to reserve the space and time for PSLS appointments at the library.

“They approached me a couple of months ago and said they realized that people were having issues getting to their office in McHenry,” Sutera said. “So they wanted to offer services at the library so that people in Harvard would be able to go to the library and find the consultation services that they offered. It [the library] really is a community center. So this is the perfect spot for PSLS to come and meet with people.”

PSLS and the library will continue to communicate with each other so that space and time can be made available for prospective clients.

“The clients can call PSLS, make the appointment, and then PSLS calls us and lets us know how many people they have coming this Thursday,” Sutera said. “Then we know that someone will be using the room, and we can make sure that it’s set aside for that.”