ROGERS PARK — The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has caused a massive upending of social norms. A large group of Rogers Park residents, however, is making sure their neighbors wont have to endure the pandemic — and it’s required social isolation — alone.
The Rogers Park Community Response Team has been organized to help neighbors stay informed, safe and equipped with the needed items to withstand the social-distancing and self-quarantining during the virus outbreak. Among the group’s members is Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), community groups like Northside Community Resources, institutions like Loyola Community Nursing Center and nearly 300 neighborhood volunteers.
The group has formed a website and a hotline (773-831-7668) where residents can call to ask questions, receive help getting items like medicine and to request assistance with mental health problems arising from social distancing and other factors related to the virus breakout.
A group of volunteers has been trained to operate the hotline, including the receiving of requests from community members and the dispatching of other volunteers to go help. Other volunteers are assisting with home deliveries, hanging up informational fliers and making calls to people in need of a friendly voice.
The community response team was formed to help other institutions and government agencies with assisting the public in this unprecedented time, Hadden said.
“It’s scary, when systems are put under stress and people don’t know where to go,” she said. “People want to help. They want to do something.”
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rogers Park as of Thursday, according to Hadden’s office.
Rogers Park residents have plenty of experience organizing community-wide efforts. That includes Protect RP, a community-led group that rallies residents to help neighbors under threat from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
So when neighborhood organizers came to Hadden’s office with an idea for a community response team, the alderman’s office tapped into groups like Protect RP, who have created the infrastructure for such efforts, said Torrence Gardner, director of economic and community development for the 49th Ward.
When the call went out for volunteers for the community response team, over 280 responses came in in just a matter of days.
“We know our neighbors want to find a way to be active in this time of crisis,” Gardner said. “We’re finding ways where we can keep people active but making sure they’re socially distant.”
The hotline has only been up since the weekend. One of the hotline’s first calls was from a Rogers Park woman who just had a baby, who lives in the U.S. on an asylum visa and whose husband was just laid off. The woman was worried about changes to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which helps residents with securing food and other needed items, Hadden said.
Other residents are seeking a friendly voice to talk to during times of self-quarantining. Rogers Park neighbors have volunteered to call those seeking a companion, or to even play boardgames or read together, according to Hadden’s office.
The idea is to have healthy and able neighbors stay busy by assisting those in Rogers Park who are vulnerable or in-need during the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is an unprecedented time,” Gardner said. “It is going to take an all-hands-on approach to address this.”
To seek help: Rogers Park residents can request assistance or ask questions by calling the community response team hotline at 773-831-7668. The group can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information: Need help on what to do if your sick, or how to find resources for assistance? Visit the Rogers Park Community Response Team’s website at www.rpcrt.org. Or sign up for Ald. Hadden’s coronavirus update newsletters by clicking here.
To volunteer: Interested in joining to the community response team? Fill out this volunteer assessment form by clicking here.
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