UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — When Ukrainian Village resident Ellen Miller Gilcrest woke up Thursday morning, she saw a tweet describing a scene from a grocery store parking lot.
Before entering a grocery store, Twitter user @Rebecca_Mehra said a woman in her 80s yelled to her from a car window. The woman cracked her car window, handed Mehra a $100 bill and asked her to buy her groceries.
In tears, the woman explained she and her husband felt unsafe inside the grocery store, because of Coronavirus.
Miller Gilcrest, who is 32, immediately thought about her own elderly neighbors in Ukrainian Village and those living on the Eastern edge of Humboldt Park.
“It didn’t occur to me,” Miller Gilcrest said. “If you are older or have a compromised immune system, it’s sort of a whole different ball game.”
So, she got online and wrote a post in a neighborhood Facebook group. She offered to run errands for her neighbors who felt unsafe in public places.
“We would be happy to go get the items on your list and drop off at your home,” she said.
Meanwhile, in Bucktown, neighbor Jeff Soukup happened to see the exact same grocery store parking lot tweet.
It was “eye opening,” he said. Soukup, who is 38, said that until recently he had been mostly worried about his own health.
“You don’t think about people in the margins,” he said. “Rather than just getting frustrated about things I can’t control, [such as] our current government response, I can focus on what I can do to make a positive difference.”
Soukup wrote a similar post as Miller Gilcrest in a Bucktown neighborhood Facebook group.
By Friday morning, dozens had offered to assist Soukup in his efforts.
“I’ve done nothing but consume media and news for the last couple of weeks. … I felt myself so down in the dumps,” Soukup said. “This is an overwhelming response from the really wonderful people in the neighborhood who are looking to take care of fellow Bucktowners.”
Neighbors in Ukrainian Village have offered help to Miller Gilcrest, too.
Neighbors in need of assistance have yet to contact either Miller Gilcrest or Soukup for help. But they said they hope that changes.
“No one’s reached out asking for help yet,” Miller Gilcrest said. “I hope people feel comfortable doing so.”
Those in need of assistance or those who wish to help Miller Gilcrest in her effort to help Ukrainian Village neighbors run errands can reach her via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those in need of assistance or those who wish to help Soukup in his effort can reach him via email, Bucktownershelp@gmail.com.
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.