Coronavirus Good News: Community Response Teams continue helping neighbors in need

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Community Response Teams around the city popped up once COVID-19 started affecting Chicagoans. Many of them with the same goal, to help neighbors in need.

"We take requests, so our most common request is for food," said Halle Quezada, coordinator of the West Ridge Community Response Team. "When we get a food request we either offer a gift card to a local grocery store or if people aren't able to shop on their own we go shopping and delivery that food."

In addition to providing neighbors with food, the team supplies people with face masks, gives small business aid and provides a hotline for neighbors to call when they need help.

Community members in Rogers Park are running a similar operation.

"Initially there was a lot of enthusiasm from volunteers. I don't know how long it took but within 2 weeks we had 400 volunteers," Community Coordinator Jim Ginderske said.

Like the West Ridge team, the Rogers Park Community Response team came about in March. Two months later and both grassroots operations are still going strong.

"It's nice to be working alongside like-minded people," said Shine Gidla, volunteer and pastor at Park Community Church.

Gidla is one of 70 volunteers with the West Ridge Community Response Team. He said giving back is a part of who he is and is happy to see his neighbors share the same ideals.

"West Ridge is a community where all of the nations come together," Gidla said. "It's been beautiful seeing people from different backgrounds, cultures and countries come together to serve others."

Once people start going back to work, Quezada and Ginderske know they'll have to change a few things to offset the loss of volunteers.

"Part of our plan is to offer folks that are receiving help to take an extra gift card and buy food for another neighbor," Quezada said.

But they're not worried about losing steam, because they have faith in their neighbors. And they're committed to helping them, no matter how long they'll need it.

"I think we're all finding that there's a lot of work for us to do right here on the ground so we're not powerless," Ginderske said. "We don't have to sit at home and feel hopeless, there's a lot that we can do as a community."

To learn more about the West Ridge Community Response Team click here.

To learn more about the Rogers Park Community Response Team click here.

Jalyn Henderson is a Community Journalist at ABC 7 Chicago. She tells stories on the North Side of Chicago in neighborhoods like Uptown, Edgewater, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, West Ridge and Rogers Park. If you have a story to share in these neighborhoods you can send an email to Jalyn.L.Henderson@abc.com
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