Information is critical to staying safe and healthy during this pandemic.
A guide for proper sanitation can lower the risk of contracting COVID-19. A call to a helpline can move someone from the streets to a warm home. An app can help a family locate a nearby pantry.
However, information alone won’t solve someone’s troubles. It’s important that they trust the source of the information. Without that trust, they might not feel comfortable reaching out to get the help they need.
In our neighborhoods, community organizations are those sources.
Community-based organizations have established relationships with many people in a neighborhood. They’re places that neighbors go to when they need help solving a problem or a helping hand. They’re dependable and accessible. Employees of community organizations often live in the communities they serve and understand the cultural values of their clients, too.
To provide timely and accurate information — especially now when they’re inundated with requests for help — these organizations need resources to quickly respond.
Through the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, United Way of Metro Chicago and The Chicago Community Trust are helping our community partners reach and engage with more people during this difficult time.
Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC) launched their Rapid Resource Information Line in April to provide critical health and wellness information to the community.
An Auburn Gresham resident, Patricia Frieson, was the first person to die from COVID-19 in the city and the neighborhood has maintained higher rates of the virus since, making this information even more vital to this community.
Five days a week, residents and other stakeholders can call the hotline for updates on the government’s response to the virus, resources in the community and activities to help them stay connected to others. Last week’s hotline featured a conversation on social-emotional learning at home and indoor gardening tips, in addition to details about GAGDC’s new food distribution on Tuesdays.
GAGDC has also hosted virtual town halls on Facebook Live for residents of Auburn Gresham and its surrounding neighborhoods, allowing them to reach a wider audience with important updates.
“For our organization, one of the things [we engage in] is just creative and innovative thinking,” said Linda Johnson, GAGDC’s housing and senior services director. “This information line was an idea that started before COVID-19, but when the stay-at-home order was implemented, we just had to pull the trigger…to continue to do outreach to our communities.”
“The information that we provide and the resources that are shared are just so necessary during this time,” Linda added.