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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Hyde Park Mom Organizes Resource Network To Help Neighbors In Need As Coronavirus Spreads

There are many more volunteers than service requests at this point, so Hyde Parker Laura Staley hopes her neighbors in need will find out about the network she created.

The Hyde Park neighborhood.
Alexa S./Flickr
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HYDE PARK — Hyde Parker Laura Staley has created a simple online resource network for her neighbors, and is encouraging others across Chicago to do the same as coronavirus continues to spread.

Using a Google form, Staley is collecting the names of volunteers who can run errands, offer financial assistance and chat on the phone with lonely neighbors as they shelter in place — whatever someone can provide, they can offer.

“Hyde Park has a lot of people coming from diverse situations; there are a lot of resources, and a lot of people that don’t have those resources,” Staley said. “This can connect them all together, and take it from people panicking about what to do … to actual action.”

There have only been several service requests so far, but at least 65 volunteers have offered assistance, according to Staley. She thinks more people will request resources as word spreads about the network’s existence and as self-quarantines become more strict.

“You should take appropriate precautions for your safety and health, as I am not able to vet anyone seeking or providing assistance,” Staley said on a neighborhood Google group.

She also seeks help from anyone with interest in managing or improving the network.

Staley is “in the middle of parenting a 4-year-old, renovating a new house and packing my old house to move,” and provides support for other Hyde Parkers who aren’t in the resource network.

But maintaining the network isn’t overwhelming, Staley said. She matches those in need with volunteers on a daily basis and spreads awareness through social media and word of mouth, then lets the community’s generosity take it from there.

She said she was inspired by a group of Michiganders she found on Twitter who organized a resource network for their neighborhood.

Staley said she has experience with similar projects. After the Hyde Park Co-op grocery store closed in 2008, she helped organize a ride-sharing program to other area grocers.

She hopes the ease of creating a neighborhood resource hub can inspire others across the city to do the same.

“I’m only facilitating it. This is pretty easy to do; it’s just a spreadsheet and a Google form,” Staley said. “Anybody in any other neighborhood should feel empowered to set it up for their community as well.”

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