'No task is ever really too small': How Fox Valley residents are helping their neighbors
As fear of the coronavirus spread and a stay-at-home order took effect, St. Charles resident Rebecca Groshek recognized the pandemic's impact would be a heavy burden for some community members.
Those who live alone might be feeling especially isolated. Others may have lost their jobs and be struggling to make ends meet. Seniors and residents with underlying health conditions could be afraid to venture outside their homes for groceries and other necessities.
Luckily, Groshek said, plenty of their neighbors are willing to help through a new volunteer movement: Fox Valley Community Response.
The concept started with a post on the Nextdoor social networking app, where Groshek is a lead for her area's online neighborhood hub.
She first suggested using the platform to share information and connect with anyone who needs assistance. But as more volunteers jumped on board, she said, she realized she could take the community outreach efforts a step further.
"There was such an outpouring of people who raised their hands and said, 'Let me know. I want to help,'" Groshek said. "So I started collecting emails."
More than 20 volunteers are now involved with the initiative, aimed at providing nonemergency services to the community's most vulnerable residents, Groshek said. After days of coordinating logistics and holding virtual meetings, she said, "we are ready and waiting for those that need us."
Tasks can include walking a dog, reviewing a resume, or picking up groceries and medication, Groshek said. If people need help placing an order on Instacart or GrubHub, a volunteer will talk them through setting up an account and scheduling a delivery. If a resident is feeling isolated, a volunteer will make a phone call.
For residents with requests that can't be completed by Fox Valley Community Response, the team is working with city and community leaders to provide relevant resources and direct them to other agencies.
"No task is ever really too small," Groshek said. "We want to be part of the solution."
Though its services are primarily centered around the Tri-Cities, the group also will respond to people in surrounding towns.
As word of the initiative spreads, she said, volunteers will be needed to manage the intake of calls and complete various tasks for the residents in need. They also will be going through a training session on best practices for protecting themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We know we are in this together, and people do feel like they want to contribute something meaningful," Groshek said. "We're ready to support whatever needs arise."
To volunteer or request services, call (331) 222-9150 or email email@example.com.