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Explore snapshots of community-based safety strategies that expand our ideas about what keeps us safe.

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Location: Chicago, IL

Organization: West Ridge Community Response Team

Contact: via Facebook/Twitter

West Ridge Community Response Team is an entirely volunteer group of neighbors supporting neighbors in the West Ridge Neighborhood of Chicago, particularly with grocery assistance and delivery. The all-volunteer team of more than seventy people provides neighbors with food, supplies people with face masks, gives small business aid, and provides a hotline for neighbors to call when they need help.

︎ Volunteer-led
︎ Offered at no cost to participants
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Ridge Community Response Team invested heavily in outreach, posting over 3,000 flyers and mass texting over 15,000 residents about a new help hotline that included free healthcare advice on non-urgent medical problems.

The help hotline, which is run every day from 5PM - 7PM, operates in 7 languages. Neighbors are connected with other neighbors for help getting groceries, isolation, and questions about financial aid, rent, unemployment and resources. 

The Team also partners with local non-profits, public schools, and organizations to reach families who have fallen through the cracks of our typical social safety nets. Community offerings and programming continue to expand. As one volunteer explains:

“We have a free community fridge, are stipending high schoolers to build and install free little pantries across the neighborhood, deliver material resources to those who call our hotline, and support neighbors with navigating applications and portals to other resources for everything from rental assistance to immigration support. We also hold community events from park clean ups to resource fairs to budget workshops and more. We work to be responsive to both community needs and community talent and use our imaginations to create the world we want to live in.”

Source: Coronavirus Good News: Community Response Teams continue helping neighbors in need, Jalyn Henderson, ABC 7, May 15, 2020