When COVID-19 shutdowns began in Chicago, neighbors in the West Ridge neighborhood started fielding calls from neighbors who needed everything from diapers and rent assistance to general information.
They soon realized that every neighborhood had something to give to help those in need. That’s when Community Response Teams started popping up in Chicagoland.
“We all have jobs and obligations. So, we are grateful for anything that people can do. Some can provide financial resources, some can provide time, and some can provide services and goods. We are happy to have it all.” said Cassandra Kaczocha, a member of the West Ridge Community Response Team.
Kaczocha also points out the point of a response team is not charity. Ultimately, they would like every neighbor to realize they have something to contribute and are empowered to advocate for themselves and others.
A year later, the West Ridge Community Response Team has created a Love Fridge, organized a large resource fair and overall, grow their connections and resources available to their community.
For those looking to create an organized effort to support everyone in their neighborhood, a Community Response Team might be the answer. Here are five ways to help build a Community Response Team along with your neighbors.
Connect with neighbors.
The most basic but essential aspect is to create a community. Connecting neighbors to each other create a better quality of life for everyone. It also makes a safety net during a crisis. Neighbors know there is someone to call and those that can help are ready to be activated.
Find the right resources.
For those that have more extensive needs, being connected to the right resources is a lifeline. Community response teams can pool resources to implementing innovative ideas like the Love Fridge. They can also get more significant resources, like rental assistance or abuse hotlines, in front of the neighbors who need it the most.
Support small businesses.
A two-way street between businesses and the community, connecting neighbors to local businesses, can save a business and allow them to use their resources to help the community.
Talk to legislators.
The average citizen does not realize that part of their legislator’s job is to listen to them. Community Response Teams can help bridge the gap that currently exists. They can work by setting up meetings with legislators or simply empowering individuals to pick up the phone and set up their own meetings.
Work with local organizations.
One of the opportunities West Ridge Community Response Team found was that there are tons of organizations looking for opportunities to get in front of people. Community Response Teams can set up resources fairs and events to get these often-untapped organizations connected with people who desperately need what they have to offer.
Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.