Academia Avance Charter School, located on Avenue 53 and Figueroa Street in Highland Park, on Tuesday night held an event that is fast becoming a Thanksgiving tradition.
While tamales are more of a Christmas or New Year tradition for many, at Academia Avance, the coming of Thanksgiving signals its time for tamales. For the fifth consecutive year, members of the school’s Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) labored for hours to deliver the corn-husk-wrapped main attraction of their “Tamaliza” fundraiser.
Proceeds from the event held on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving are used to support teachers with anything “from frogs to books,” according to Angela Vizcaya, the school’s student activities and parent coordinator. Science teachers request frogs for dissection and English teachers request novels, she explained.
However, the money raised will also support college campus tours, summer school, dances and culmination, Vizcaya told EGP. The event made a $1,500 profit, she said.
“The Housewives of Highland Park”—as Vizcaya affectionately refers to them—spent Monday filling shifts along an assembly line in Vizcaya’s office, making 1,500 tamales that sold out.
The group of 21 parents, composed almost exclusively of mothers, keep the mood light, cracking jokes and demonstrating a tight-knit friendship while making the red pork, green chicken, and cheese and chili tamales.
Araceli Garcia, mother of Elizabeth, an 11th grade student, has been a member of the PAC for seven years. Her older daughter, now a sophomore at Mt. Saint Mary’s College, graduated from Academia Avance.
The first year of the Tamaliza all the moms made their own tamales and donated them to be sold at the fundraiser, according to Garcia. But by the third year they began getting together to prepare the tamales, she said. The group currently asks for ingredients to be donated and volunteer their time to do the work.
“We thought it wouldn’t work out but it has,” Garcia told EGP, speaking in Spanish. Each year they make more tamales and raise more funds, she added.
Some of the fathers, who are less involved or don’t want to attend social gatherings in their personal lives, look forward to attending the Tamaliza, Vizcaya and Garcia said.
Elda Castillo, Vizcaya’s mother and a volunteer, said the secret to the tamale sales really comes down to the tamale recipe, specifically knowing how to make a delicious chili for the meats.
Blanca Gutierrez, mother of a sixth grader at Academia Avance’s satellite campus in Lincoln Heights, says she believes the parent-led event is also successful because it is fun.
“I think because we’re a small school, not a big public school, it’s easier for parents to get involved and know each other,” Gutierrez said.
Carmina Grajeda, mother of a 9th grader, was one of several moms smearing “masa” (Tamale corn dough) on husks with a spoon. “This is a good excuse to be together as a family and to co-exist with our Avance family,” Grajeda said.
Siblings, 11th grader Araceli Perez and 8th grader Adrian Perez, helped make and count the tamales. Adrian said he doesn’t know any other school that has a Tamaliza. Araceli, who has experience making tamales at home, said the work of preparing the tamales is “fun” and “exciting” because the moms have a good sense of humor and tell jokes.
The fundraiser also includes the sale of champurrado (hot chocolate drink) and deserts; there were also raffles, games and live entertainment.
Most of the students at Academia Avance are Latino, and about 92 to 94 percent of the students qualify for a free or reduced lunch, according to Vizcaya.
Last year, PAC members raised a total of $9,000 through all their fundraising efforts. Other successful mothers-led efforts include increasing parent attendance at parent-teacher conferences, using a phone tree and assigning parents to PAC members, Vizcaya said.
East Los Angeles College business major Kevin faced a tough decision this year: move with his family to Victorville where housing is cheaper, or continue his studies here without a stable place to live.
School won out, but the choice left him homeless. The 24-year old, who asked that we not use his real name because he worries what people will say about him, says he is “so close to finishing” school.
He is now staying at a shelter in Bell where he endures cold showers and guards his personal items from being stolen. He rations out his funds to pay for tuition and bus tickets, and buys gel inserts for his shoes to cushion his feet from blisters when he walks long distances.
He is looking for a job, but worries that working could distract him or delay his studies indefinitely.
Kevin’s is a common story, says Esperanza Ortega, an ELAC student herself who works as a case manager at the Los Angeles courts. In her free time she runs Hook Up, the Internet cafe and resource center she started in Montebello to help veterans and homeless students.
She says the students are choosing homelessness for “cultural reasons,” torn as to whether they should even be students because they feel they should be providing for their families instead.
They feel “they are too old to be taken care of by their families, and they dismiss themselves from the family,” she said.
The shelves at Hook Up are stacked with toiletries and school supplies. Ortega makes the center inviting with plush sofas, walls decorated with art. There are spacious tables and laptops for students to use for studying, and she offers food and snacks for a nominal charge.
Ortega can usually be found on the phone or the computer helping students navigate and follow up on the complex network of social services, or reading and polishing up their resumes. She helps them prep for job interviews, search for financial aid and scholarships, and solicit donations of food and everyday necessities. In at least one case, she has helped a student get access to needed medical treatment and healthcare.
While there are shelters and services on Skid Row, Ortega wanted to locate the center closer to ELAC, and in an environment that feels safer.
Kevin said he considered staying overnight in abandoned homes or at the airport as a few of his friends were doing: but that was before he found about the center.
On his very first visit, they started the process of getting him set up at the Bell shelter, which required sitting through interviews and filling out applications.
“It felt like a home… they gave me Cup of Noodles, and I went on the computer and checked out Dragonball Z,” an animated television show he used to enjoy watching, he said.
Kevin said he is grateful that Ortega and her fiancé William Velazquez were persistent in securing him a place to stay.
“They didn’t stop at just one place. They kept making calls,” he said.
Ortega opened the center in March; a few months after last year’s Occupy ELAC encampment broke up. As one of its organizers, she brought living essentials and cooked for her fellow students.
Ortega says that’s when she noticed that many of the participants were not camping out to support the movement, but because they had no other place to go.
So, as Occupy ELAC packed up its tents and shut down, she was thinking about opening a homeless shelter or purchasing a house for the students; options that proved to be either too expensive or involved too much red tape, she said.
Ortega believes more and more students are starting to feel like burdens to their families. She said one of her close friends is having financial difficulties because of the economy, which has forced some students to drop out for a few semesters to work before returning to study. Many of them may not know about some of the assistance that is available to them, she said.
Meanwhile, Kevin continues to adjust to life on his own. “I feel like I’ve been gone forever,” he says about his family. His mother, who is disabled, tells him she’s worried about him when they talk on the phone. In turn, he worries about his sister, who much like him when he was younger, may find out too late the importance of doing well in school.
Another aspect of his new life he struggles with — calling friends to ask for help. “Why not call a person to see how they’re doing? Instead of calling them and saying, can you help me?”
The Hook Up Internet & Resource Center is located at 923 W. Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA and can be reached on the Route 10 bus of the Montebello Bus Lines. Their hours are usually 10am to 10pm. The center regularly holds events, including swapmeets, fundraisers and donation drives featuring music and art. Their next art show is Dec. 15. For more information, call (323) 516-6382 or visit their website at http://www.thehookupresourcecntr.org/
Though Veterans Day ceremonies often include some acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, according to some veterans, few people really understand the challenges service men and women face when they leave the military.
Paul Aranda Jr., an Army veteran himself, spoke to EGP about the challenges that many veterans face. He works for TELACU, a community development corporation in Commerce, and interacts with veterans on a daily basis at the TELACU Education Foundation’s Veterans Upward Bound program, which helps veterans transition into college after being discharged.
Aranda said while some people join the military because of culture, or a desire to serve, for many others it’s the economic and educational benefits they believe they’ll receive that factor most into their decisions to enlist.
Rick Reyes is a past client of the Upward Bound program and one of several veterans honored at the Bell Gardens Hometown Hero ceremony held last week. He told EGP that people in his community often enlist as a way out of their economic situation, but from what he has seen, many veterans find themselves in the same situation they had hoped to escape when they return home.
Reyes said some of the friends he served with in the Marines, who came from different backgrounds and a higher socio and economic status, could “actually go back home and their parents can offer them opportunities” when their tour of duty was over. “I didn’t have the luxury of doing that: After I was done with my service, I was on my own.”
Dealing with being unemployed is one of the challenges Aranda says most veterans face when they are discharged. They have to find a way to make up for their loss of income, he said, adding that they often wind up in a job they did not expect.
“If a veteran came out and said, ‘I want to work,’ he wouldn’t have that hard of a time finding a position,” but getting the type of job he really wants, “that’s hard for everyone,” Aranda said.
When Reyes was discharged in 2008 after serving in Iraq, he had to figure out how to support his daughter with a job that paid less than being a Marine.
“Too often our skills don’t necessarily translate [in the civilian world]. So it’s difficult to secure good employment and we often have to settle for positions that aren’t paying well or that don’t offer benefits,” Reyes said. “It’s almost like all that experience and knowledge and time you spent in the military is not being validated.”
Aranda says some employers assume veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and fear hiring them. But even if a veteran does suffer from PTSD, that doesn’t mean he can’t function like anyone else, according to Aranda.
“Everyone does have some form of post traumatic stress without [having] the disorder. Just the idea of shifting from one culture to the other, it creates some general stress,” he explained.
One of those stressors is the lack of a sense of security, which changes when a veteran returns home.
“For the most part, there’s a feeling of security. You have a place to stay, the food is there, the medical stuff is all taken care of, it’s all set up… All of a sudden you get out and nothing’s guaranteed,” he told EGP.
Separating from people they were close to and from their daily routines also causes a feeling of displacement, Aranda added.
Reyes says he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because he had trouble being in a room full of strangers, but noted that kind of stress eventually goes away. It’s the sudden loss of prestige, rather, that can affect a veteran’s mental state, he said.
According to Aranda, many veterans come out of the military used to making a certain amount of money, and find it hard to find jobs that pay as much. He advises returning service men and women to take full advantage of their GI Bill benefits and go back to school, which he said will give them a better shot at having a career.
WWII veteran Bill Sanchez echoed that sentiment. He told EGP his advice to young veterans is to go to college, which was what he did after returning home after being held as a prisoner of war.
“I never had to struggle because I took advantage of my VA Bill of Rights and got my college degree,” Sanchez said.
But, Reyes told EGP, veterans need to know that the transition period takes twice as long as they think it will, and should be factored in when figuring out how long it will take to complete college.
“When you serve and you return, you see your friends moved on and secured their careers, so you’re in that position where you have to constantly play a game of catch up,” Reyes said. “When you combine your time in transition and your time securing a career, added to the time in service,” it can be “a huge problem” for many vets, he said.
Going back to school has its challenges, said Reyes, who could not believe that the only college credit he received at ELAC for his military service was one P.E. unit.
“When I have to go back to school and I’m sitting in a classroom in my mid to late 20s with these young high school grads, there’s a problem there,” he said. “I served combat first hand and to come back and almost start back at step one from when I graduated high school is a bit unfair.”
Francisco Toribio was recently discharged from the Army and uses TELACU’s Upward Bound services. He told EGP that he decided to go to college in order to support his family.
He acknowledged that interacting with people at school could be difficult because of their military training and culture; it was even difficult with his family, he said.
“When I got back I was cursing a lot, so people were giving me eyeballs. But in the military culture that’s normal,” Toribio said. “Your way of talking, your way of culture is stronger and they haven’t seen you for a while, so they don’t understand the change.”
Toribio told EGP that the way communities embrace or treat veterans also has an impact on their reintegration into society.
“When I used military ID for a discount I overheard a woman say ‘he went overseas to kill babies’…I brushed it off, but when I got home I thought, ‘is that what everyone thinks of us.’”
Reyes understands that the public’s view of the war may affect how they treat returning veterans, but says there are ways to distinguish the war from the warrior.
“You can support the troops without necessarily supporting the war,” Reyes told EGP. “No matter how you feel about the war, there’s always ways of supporting the troops.”
Aranda told EGP that civilians just might not know how to interact with veterans.
“There’s no need to ever discuss combat with a veteran,” he said. “If they want to discuss it, they’ll discuss it on their own.
“You can ask them basic stuff like where did you serve, what was your MOS, but for the most part, there’s never a need to dig further. Even something simple, like ‘did you deploy’ can be a bad question.”
Reyes thinks civilians should at least be familiar with basic terminology and able to distinguish the different branches of the military.
“You definitely have to learn the lingo, know what the different uniforms are, those are the sort of things civilians can pay attention to, so that if you do engage they are not offending the individual that they’re talking to,” he explained.
Reyes told EGP that the extra help and resources veterans need to reintegrate into society has led the public to create a narrative that veterans are victims.
“Veterans are often looked at as charity cases because we need special services and resources, and although that might be true, it isn’t anything that we’re failing on our end,” Reyes said.
Aranda says veterans can turn that narrative around and be the ones that help others by getting involved in community service projects.
“Get involved, there’s a lot community service organization out there that want to take veterans and put them into community service roles, to let them get that sense of purpose again,” he told EGP.
Reyes agrees. “Veterans have to also take responsibility and get reengaged into society. We joined the military because we have this sense of service and once you leave the military, you kind of lose that. So remind yourself why you joined in the first place,” he said.
For more information about TELACU’s Veterans Upwards Bound Program, visit www.telacu.com.
While many Hispanic residents in Los Angeles celebrate Thanksgiving with traditional American customs, others opt to do it their own way and incorporate their favorite traditions from their homeland.
Thanksgiving, one of the most important celebrations of the year, is a chance to reconnect with family living near and far.
“We always look forward to our children who are away studying, one in Washington and the other in Colorado, to come home,” Jorge Portillo, a Salvadorian living in the U.S. for 20 years, told Efe.
“Our family, which is very big, uses Thanksgiving to bring everyone together,” said Maricela Casillas, who was born in Long Beach and is of Mexican origin. “My mother was born in Sinaloa and my father in Jalisco,” she said, explaining how she learned to cook.
“Our tradition is to prepare delicious enchiladas that have to be at the table along with the turkey stuffing,” said Maricela, while demonstrating how to make their Thanksgiving enchiladas.
In many homes, the traditional Thanksgiving meal includes a turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pastries, like pumpkin pie and apple tarts.
But, in other Hispanic families, grilled steak, enchiladas, beans, tamales, and even bunuelos, depending on the family’s origins and the foods that they like, frequently accompany the turkey.
For example, the Martinez family, with origins in Northern Mexico, prepares their turkey stuffing using Grandmother Rosario’s “secret recipe,” and the celebration always includes beans, a very spicy hot sauce, and a comforting bowl of menudo.
For the Olarte family, whose grandparents came from El Salvador, the turkey is always accompanied by special vegetables — liked a lot by the grandparents, but not as much by the grandchildren — and other typical of Central American dishes.
For the Rodriguez family, originally from Colombia, the Thanksgiving dinner revolves around the turkey, but also includes bunuelos made from sponge cake, marking the start of the Christmas season.
“We like bunuelos, and we always incorporate them into our Thanksgiving meal,” said Niza Rodríguez, explaining how to make both the crispy and spongy type bunuelos.
“This is how we welcome in the Christmas season,” the woman said.
Beverages also vary according to the country someone is from: “aguas frescas,” or fresh fruit juices, are a must at the celebrations of Mexicans, but malts and red colas are enjoyed by many South American families.
And while many Hispanics enjoy delicious red or white wine to accompany their meal, there is always someone who will prefer the strong flavor of a Latin brand of beer.
And after dinner is all over, a cup of coffee can help keep the conversation going, or keep you alert on your way home from the party.
So, while in Los Angeles the turkey is still king, it may at times have to share its throne with a nice piece of beef, ribs, or a flavorful bowl of pozole, maybe even a hardy burrito.
We are a country that is indeed blessed, which for all of its faults continues to mean hope to millions of people around the globe.
We have a society that is not being racked by rioting and revolution, despite our many political, religious, ethnic and socio-economic differences.
Our people do demonstrate their disagreement with corporate policies that do not sufficiently respect those who work to make them rich and successful in the eyes of the world, yet we have somehow managed not to descend into the anarchy that plagues other parts of the world.
While we complain, argue, ridicule and do not always regard each other kindly, politically we manage to continually disagree, with the understanding that it is our right as Americans to do so.
More and more these days, too many of our so-called leaders are focused on their right to fight, rather than on negotiating a compromise to end their war of wills.
We have all heard that things are improving, the economy is better, houses are selling, unemployment is down, but we are also hearing the stories of people who have just given up, who are living far below where they were just a few years ago.
The fact is, over the last half decade or so, a disproportionate share of our abundance has moved into the hands of a very few, a shift that has caused the gap between the rich and poor to grow faster and deeper than at any other time in our history.
Yet, for a majority of Americans, their faith and hope in the future still remains.
So, this Thanksgiving Day, no matter our hardships, we should all remember that we are blessed, give thanks for our past history, mistakes included, and our faith in the future.
In the end, it is that faith and hope which will carry us forward.
You know about Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when people line up outside the big department stores and discount stores in the middle of the night to buy cheap Christmas presents. Black Friday is a big day for retailers, but I don’t think it’s nearly as important as Small Business Saturday.
That’s because small business is the heart and soul of our economy.
Small Business Saturday is about Main Street, not Wall Street. It’s about the entrepreneurs and families who have put everything into stores that offer what the chains and e-commerce companies don’t – something different, something special, from handcrafted gifts to genuinely friendly service.
It’s also about supporting the local economy. The chain stores are owned by big corporations based someplace else, but small businesses are usually owned by people who live in the community. When you shop at a small business, you’re supporting your hometown, your neighborhood, and your neighbors.
The media tends to focus on the Fortune 500 brands everyone knows, but small businesses represent 99 percent of U.S. employers, and they employ about half of the nation’s private-sector workforce, according to the latest figures from the federal government.
We can’t have a strong economy unless our small businesses are doing well – and right now they’re not doing well. They’re hurting.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business’ latest Small-Business Optimism Index, the outlook among small-business owners is still wary. The survey, conducted before the presidential election, found that weak sales are still the No. 1 issue facing small-business owners.
The truth is that small businesses aren’t going to hire new employees if they’re worried about keeping the lights on. They aren’t going to expand or add locations if they’re worried about the torrent of new regulations coming out of Washington or a health-care package that’s going to jack up costs without doing much to increase competition and improve access to affordable coverage.
Small Business Saturday, then, is a good opportunity for people to support the establishments that mean so much to America’s economic wellbeing.
According to the inaugural Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released Nov. 8 by NFIB and American Express, nearly half of all independent merchants plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday marketing plans, while 67 percent plan to offer special discounts on Saturday, Nov. 24.
Small businesses generally offer better service than you’ll find at the chain stores. Small-business owners and their employees know their merchandise and understand their customers. When you shop at a small business, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner, not some random teenager who’s there for the employee discount and couldn’t care less whether you shop there again.
Small-business owners and their employees will do everything they can to keep you satisfied because their livelihoods depend on you coming back.
Then there’s the traffic. Shopping-mall parking lots can be ugly this time of year, but small businesses are usually in neighborhoods with smaller crowds and better parking, and that can go a long way toward making your day merry and bright.
But beyond all this, there’s the value that small businesses bring to the community.
Small businesses are usually owned by people who have a vested interest in the community, in its schools, in the quality of life. It’s no accident that small-business owners are among the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, schools and virtually every other form of community activity.
That’s why I urge you to support Small Business Saturday – and to shop at small, independent businesses other day of the year, too.
NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 states. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses.
On Election Day, Arizona remained a red state — electing Sheriff Joe Arpaio to a sixth term in office, Republican Jeff Flake to the U.S. Senate, and voting for Mitt Romney for president — while its neighbors, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado, went blue for President Obama. According to political pundits, the reason those states voted Democrat this year was because of their fast-growing Latino populations. If having a large Latino population was all a state needed to turn blue, then Arizona, which is almost one-third Latino, should have been blue, too. But it wasn’t. Why not?
To understand why those states are blue, visualize a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is history. History provides a story. Many New Mexicans, for example, can trace their roots to Spanish settlers who settled the land well before New Mexico became part of the United States. Latinos in Colorado and California can do the same.
This history supplies a narrative for politicians seeking public office. When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, he frequently recounted how he could trace his family history back to the people who originally settled Colorado. His message connected with his fellow Coloradans, who could place themselves in a similar historical context. People who run for public office in these states insert themselves into their states’ existing narratives, and voters project their own similar story onto the candidate.
Political movements grow from and organize around a shared history, which erects the next stage of the pyramid: political infrastructure. Latino and Democratic Party leaders in California, in the 1980s, noticed the demographics in red-state California were changing. Having a shared history and understanding historical trends, they designed a political infrastructure to harness this changing demographic, which later helped to elect scores of Latino candidates and turned the state blue. For the past 10 years, U.S. Senator Harry Reid and the Culinary Workers Union assembled a political infrastructure that harnessed Nevada’s growing Latino population and got him reelected in 2010, despite a strong challenge from a Tea Party candidate.
Political infrastructure informs messaging and media, the next level of the pyramid. Before this election cycle, New Mexico experimented with messaging and figured out how to reach its diverse Latino population. They created messages that moved beyond “Sí, se puede” (Yes, we can) and which appealed to first-generation Latinos as well as to sixth-generation Latinos, resulting in greater voter turnout. New Mexicans, in other words, did not treat Latinos as a static or homogenous group, and took steps to ensure their message appealed across generational lines.
At the top of the pyramid is the elected official. This is the least important part of the pyramid because having a durable pyramid makes it easy to seamlessly change from leader to leader. This explains why New Mexico remains blue even though Democratic Latino Governor Bill Richardson was replaced by Susana Martinez, a Republican Latina governor.
Arizona’s pyramid lacks these elements; at best, it’s an inverted pyramid. Arizonans’ history bends toward conservatism; it’s rooted in the conservative politics of U.S. Senator and 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and Supreme Court Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor. Republican candidates often invoke Goldwater’s name in their political narrative; they link themselves to these historical figures. Democratic candidates, of course, cannot insert themselves into this narrative; as a result, when Democratic Party leaders find a candidate to support, they attempt to build a history to fit that candidate’s personal story. But manufacturing history this way creates a disconnect between the candidate and the electorate. Part of the reason for this historical gap is that many Arizona residents are transplants from other states. (Arizona residents often remark that it’s rare to find a native of Arizona.)
Arizona, furthermore, does not have a Democratic leader like Harry Reid (who has deep roots in Nevada) with the stability, power, and political contacts to harness and organize the large Latino population in Arizona. Without a strong political infrastructure, Arizona Democrats are fragmented, and tend to be more reactive than proactive, and this fragmentation affects messaging. When Sheriff Arpaio, who is a master at messaging, went on television to discuss his “crime suppression sweeps,” (a.k.a. immigration raids) liberals botched at constructing a message that resonated beyond the immigrant population. Whatever message was finally communicated, it was (and has been) ineffective at changing the policy.
At this year’s Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party released a list of the top 20 Latino leaders in the United States. Despite the large Latino population, no one from Arizona was on that list. Part of the reason for this is the instability of the pyramid. If Arizonans wish to turn their state blue in the next election cycle, they will need to understand the deficiencies within the pyramid. If they do not, they shouldn’t be surprised when Sheriff Arpaio is reelected to a seventh term as sheriff.
Juan Rocha is a criminal defense attorney in Tucson and holds a JD from UCLA and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago.
Futuro College Preparatory Charter School, a new charter elementary school in the Eastside of Los Angeles, celebrated the student’s high API score of 908 by allowing each student to throw a pie in the principal’s face.
The school located in L.A.‘s eastside is a free public school open to all. Its doors in August 2010 for kindergarten and first grade. Each year, the school will grow by one grade, eventually serving grades K-5th grade.
Los Angeles Area Social Security offices will now be open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. – a reduction of 30 minutes each weekday. And beginning Jan. 2, 2013, the offices will be closed to the public at noon every Wednesday.
Employees will continue to work their regular hours but the shorter public window will allow them to complete face-to-face interviews and process claims work without incurring overtime costs. The offices will also be closed to the public on November 23, the day after Thanksgiving.