Unclaimed money

North Chicago Resource Fair brings services, and some surprise cash, to residents; ‘We’re meeting people where they are’

Cheers erupted during a Community Resource Fair designed to bring services closer to residents and make them simpler, when a man learned he was more than $5,000 richer because the state of Illinois was holding money he did not know he had.

While sitting at a table staffed by Bogie Kwasny, a community affairs specialist in the office of Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, the man, who declined to give his name, learned the state’s ICash office had more than $5,000 of his money he can now claim.

The ICash representative was one of 11 government entities or private organizations participating in a Community Resource Fair Thursday at the North Chicago Public Library designed to bring resources to residents and simplifying their receipt of them.

Before the man learned of his newfound money, state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, was looking for a Waukegan woman to let her know she is a millionaire with $1.4 million sitting in an ICash account waiting for the woman to claim it.

“She has more than $1 million in unclaimed funds,” Mayfield, who sponsored the event with state Sen. Adriane Johnson, D-Buffalo Grove, said, “We’ve been trying to reach her or family members. I’d love to hand her that check.”

State Sen. Adriane Johnson, D-Buffalo Grove, talks to one of the exhibitors at a Community Resource Fair she sponsored with state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan.

Johnson said the purpose of community resource fairs is bringing services people may need to them where they can talk to an individual, free from dealing with websites and telephone answering systems.

“We’re meeting people where they are,” Johnson said.

Learning about the Waukegan woman with $1.4 million due her and listening to the cheers in the room when the man learned of his over $5,000 of unclaimed money, Johnson said it shows the benefits of localizing access to resources.

“This is life-changing,” Johnson said of the Waukegan woman.

In addition to the treasurer’s office, the fair featured representatives of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, Waukegan Township, the Illinois Department of Human Services, the state’s commission on equality and inclusion, Mano a Mano, United Healthcare, the Illinois Psychiatric Association, the Rosalind Franklin University Mobile Clinic and the legislators’ offices

Safeguarding more than $3.5 billion of unclaimed funds, Greg Rivara, the treasurer’s press secretary, said there is nearly $263 million belonging to Lake County residents with 34,546 individuals entitled to claims more than $1,000.

Bogie Kwasny tells a resident at a Community Resource Fair about Illinois’ ICash program.

Though Rivara said he cannot disclose the name of Waukegan’s unknown millionaire for security reasons, he has some advice. She, like the individual with his more than $5,000 and anyone else can logon to IllinoisTreasurer.gov and click on ICash.

“You put in your name and your town,” Rivara said. “You should check the name of your spouse, a maiden name and places of worship.”

Johnson said some of the money held by the treasurer’s office is from life insurance companies who cannot find the beneficiary of a policy.

People who want to renew their driver’s license, state identification card, get their current vehicle sticker for the car, receive a Real ID or register to vote were able to accomplish those tasks at the secretary of state’s table.

Irma Toro Elliott of United Healthcare Insurance said she was there to help seniors on Medicare learn about a variety of supplemental plans.

A group of 11 exhibitors participated in a Community Resource Fair in North Chicago.

Jacob Perez, the deputy director of the state’s Business Enterprise Program, said his job Thursday was reaching out to business owners who are minorities, women, veterans or have a disability, to make sure they know benefits available to them.

“This group is entitled to receive 30% of state contracts,” Perez said.

Both Dr. Paul Hung of Rosalind Franklin University and Dr. Steve Weinstein, a past president of the Illinois Psychiatric Society, said they wanted to make sure people were aware of mental health services.

“If you have high blood pressure, you know what to do,” Weinstein said. “It is the same for mental health.”

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