ENGLEWOOD — With coronavirus cases climbing and more public and private facilities shutting down, I Grow Chicago is taking action to keep some of the city’s more vulnerable residents safe.
The Peace Campus, 6402 S. Honore St., will remain open as long as possible for those in need of food and shelter. Showers will be available for use as well, according to Zelda Mayer, director of development for the South Side nonprofit.
“We’re committed to providing basic needs and resources at our house,” said Mayer, who added that a number of residents I Grow Chicago serves are homeless.
“If we’re recommended to close for any reason, we’ll be working with block leaders to get ahead of the problem so that resources aren’t centralized to the Peace House. We can still have infrastructure to support neighbors and make sure we’re getting people soap, food and other basic needs.”
In the event the Peace House is shut down, Community Wellness coordinators from I Grow’s Strive to Thrive program will be dispatched to offer peer-to-peer support, working a 12-block radius between Honore, Wood and Wolcott streets. One person from each block (who is in good health) will serve as point person for that block, making daily check-ins on their neighbors.
Keeping the Peace House clean and fully stocked is a top priority as well. The organization has instituted a stringent cleaning procedure to insure all guests and volunteers remain as safe as possible. Volunteers will disinfect high-touch areas three times a day, everyone who enters the house will have to wash their hands immediately and no one will be allowed in the kitchen without permission.
One I Grow Chicago volunteer is working on a Peace House version of the hand washing song that went viral from Vietnam, which was recently featured on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, added Mayer.
“We’ll also have a nurse coming weekly to educate residents on what the virus is, debunk the myths and help people sort through the medical language,” said Mayer. “The nurse will let people know what the recommendations are, and help to educate our kids as well.”
And hugs have been replaced with elbow taps. For now, at least.
The organization still needs help from the public to keep their supply shelves stocked, with the top three needs being disinfecting soap, food (both prepared and non-perishable) and cleaning supplies. People are welcome to drop off supplies at the Peace House.
“We’re going through a ton of supplies right now as we’re committed to keeping the Peace House really clean,” said Mayer. “People have been hoarding supplies, so it’s been really hard for us to replenish our supplies, and that’s a limiting factor for us. If anyone has any extras, it would be great if they shared them with us.”
Those who are unable to get supplies to the Peace House are encouraged to send in donations that will help create care packages for Englewood’s elderly residents.
“People can sign up to be monthly donors as well,” said Mayer. “Twenty-five dollars a month can really help.”