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'There's A Ton Of Resources'

New helpline assists West Siders with finding local relief

August 5th, 2020 1:20 PM

Lawndale resident sews masks at Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church. | Pidgeon Pagonis

Pascal Sabino/Block Club Chicago

The North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council has created a helpline where residents can find local resources to help them meet basic needs.

The helpline was created because so many organizers and neighbors banded together amid the coronavirus pandemic to provide emergency help for residents, providing food, supplies and assistance getting tests. The helpline will help keep track of all the relief efforts and the people who need support.

Organizers are encouraging residents to reach out if they are struggling to pay for child care, transportation, medical care or mental health resources, or if they are experiencing food or housing insecurity.

"There's a ton of resources that are going around … but I know that gets overwhelming," said DuShaun Branch, a community organizer for the neighborhood group. "So if you can call a place that can give you a list of resources, and then maybe they follow up with you, that helps you stay accountable. I think it's very helpful."

The helpline is available to North Lawndale residents and those in nearby communities, including Little Village.

Residents can request help online by submitting a request form or calling the helpline at 800-655-1626.

Volunteers and helpline staff are available 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday for immediate assistance. Those who submit a request online can get support within 24 hours.

As more resources and giveaways become available, workers on the helpline will notify residents about new opportunities that fit their needs.

The neighborhood group is also offering financial support to struggling families through a new Compassion Fund. The projects emerged out of the Lawndale Cares mutual aid network the community group formed in response to the pandemic.

Residents needing direct financial support can apply online.

The Compassion Fund is a way for North Lawndale residents to get help paying for food, child care, transportation assistance and housing. Any resident in need is encouraged to apply.

The group aims to respond to those who apply with direct support within a week and a half of submitting a request.

"I think the goal is to have that entry point and then to continue to engage with people to let them know about all the resources that come our way," Branch said.

Branch said the helpline is intended to provide long-term support for residents who needed help even before COVID hit.

"We see the helpline going beyond COVID. We know there have been and will be needs in the community that people can get help navigating," Branch said.

The community group was able to staff the helpline with West Side residents through its partnerships with trauma-informed care agency I Am Able and the North Lawndale Employment Network.

Local groups like Sinai Community Institute are supporting the initiative, which allows staff at the helpline to follow up with callers to make sure they have received the support they requested.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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