LOGAN SQUARE — Neighbors have launched a Logan Square-specific mutual aid network to help those in need on a neighborhood level.
The online network connects residents struggling to make rent or get to the pharmacy during the coronavirus outbreak with neighbors who are willing to help.
Melanie Hoekstra, a Logan Square resident of seven years who manages the garden program at Ravenswood Montessori, launched the Logan Square Mutual Aid earlier this week after realizing that the citywide effort, called the Chicago Mutual Aid Network, was going to be an “enormous undertaking.”
“I know a number of people already, people who have not signed up for any kind of aid, who are already in very dire situations. I want to help them. I want to figure this out. I know we can all come together and work to lift one another up,” Hoekstra said.
Not long after launching the network, Hoekstra got a call from Heidi Gross, one of the organizers behind the Chicago Mutual Aid Network, and now the two are working together on the Logan Square effort.
Gross works at Northwestern University’s Center for Civic Engagement and moved to Logan Square last fall. She said she knows Logan Square needs its own hyperlocal network because more than 400 Logan Square residents signed up to be helpers through the Chicago Mutual Aid Network.
“My impression is that Logan Square does have a lot higher involvement than other neighborhoods,” she said of the citywide effort.
So far, the Logan Square Mutual Aid has only received about 20 submissions, Hoekstra said. But both Hoekstra and Gross hope the network grows in the coming weeks.
Gross said hyperlocal mutual aid networks are important because if someone needs a ride to the hospital or urgently needs medicine, neighbors are there to get the job done quickly.
Gross also noted that it’s hard to know where to focus your energy when there is so much upheaval everywhere, but helping neighbors feels “more manageable.”
“It is very overwhelming to think about the level of need on a citywide scale, but it might help people to feel more motivated to act if it feels a little more personal,” she said.
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