Coronavirus crisis hurting Census outreach for Latinos

Census 2020 outreach efforts within suburban Latino communities have taken a hit since the coronavirus outbreak.

"We are praying for churches to open," says Rosa Lopez, census outreach coordinator for Centro de Informacion in Elgin.

That's where members of the Latino community, especially seniors, congregate.

"Now, we are doing videos so we can post on Facebook," Lopez said.

The center is partnering with Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin to disseminate census fliers and step-by-step video guides in Spanish on social media for now. Lopez also has been guiding people on how to fill out census forms by phone.

Lope> acknowledged these methods might be less effective in reaching low-income Latinos and seniors without access to the internet.

"Some people who do not have a computer at home, we are telling them to call or wait a couple of weeks," Lopez said. "Once everything opens back up, I'm sure we'll better be able to reach all those people."

Census questionnaires can be filled out at through August.

<h3 class="leadin">Church resource: The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College has launched - a clearinghouse of free resources for churches and church leaders to help navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The site offers sermons, articles, planning manuals, and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with Wheaton College's Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, and The PEACE Plan, a mission of Saddleback Church.

"There is no need to panic, but there is a need to plan well and wisely - protecting our church family and serving the community in Jesus' name," said Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Center executive director.

The center has launched a new podcast featuring interviews by global leaders.

A two-day online summit hosted by the Humanitarian Disaster Institute to help churches respond included black and Latino leaders, such as the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and pastor Brenda Salter McNeil, a biblical reconciliation and racial justice expert.

<h3 class="leadin">Caring communities: Whether it's helping with grocery shopping, medication delivery or spiritual support, many faith groups are caring for the most vulnerable within their communities who are sheltering in place amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Among them is the Sikh Religious Society, which has the Midwest's largest and oldest gurdwara in Palatine with about 1,600 members.

The group shepherds a larger Sikh community of about 4,000 people, including roughly 400 seniors who mostly "don't know how to drive and cannot go out on their own," said Pardeep Singh Gill, society president.

Nearly 50 volunteers have stepped up to offer help to those elderly members living alone or with chronic health issues during this time of social distancing.

Volunteers can perform welfare checks on seniors, shop for and deliver groceries and medications, prepare and deliver food, and provide health consultations on a case-by-case basis. The gurdwara's langar, or community kitchen, also is ready to prepare meals for pickup, Gill said.

<h3 class="leadin">Free deliveries: The Mecca MVMT, a youth initiative of The Mecca Center in Willowbrook, is offering a free grocery and medication delivery service for seniors and immunocompromised individuals avoiding outdoor interactions due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The service is for Willowbrook and surrounding areas and will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during this crisis.

For help, call the hotline for Arabic/English at (414) 604-6283 and Urdu/English at (708) 872-7532. Donations to support the group's efforts may be sent via Zelle to

<h3 class="leadin">Care coalition:

The Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition has launched the Care Coalition, a grass-roots, diverse partnership of social and civic organizations of all races, faiths, and backgrounds aiming to connect residents who need care with those who can give it during the coronavirus crisis.

The group has been disseminating education and guidance on the coronavirus through webinars and social media. It also will provide social, financial and emotional supports, such as food delivery, financial grants, mental health/counseling, and census completion assistance.

"As the weeks progress, neighbors will need each other across our city, state, and nation, and we will get through this crisis together," coalition President Dilara Sayeed said.

Sign up to give or receive care at or call (866) 422-7320.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic with Madhu Krishnamurthy at

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