Neighbors Helping Neighbors

A fellow education advocate from Raise Your Hand started a Mutual Aid group in Bridgeport. This intrigued me as I gave money to the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, yet I felt I could do more. When I saw the creation of the Mutual Aid group, I thought, we can do that here. I am sure there is a need. I am the vice president at the Beverly Improvement Association and brought up this idea to our directors.  I received the backing of BIA and hosted the first 19th Ward Mutual Aid. I reached out to several influencers to help get the word out. The meeting generated quite a bit of interest, so I knew that we should move forward. Started the FB page, created a separate an account, and built the website
I am the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) here on the south side. I spoke to several of our officers regarding the partnership and we all agreed that should be part of this endeavor. Charity is a hallmark of the Hibernians. So is social justice, but what really touches our members is knowing that families might be hungry. The famine, or also known as The Great Hunger (an Gorta Mór), the Irish either survived or left, which still leaves an indelible mark upon them.
Other projects include building a fence to enclose the yard at a domestic abuse shelter so the clients can enjoy the huge yard to garden and enjoy the outdoors without being exposed.

Why is this an important cause for you?

I mentioned a couple reasons above, though I will a couple here. I have experience with job loss. I worked for Arthur Andersen when they were tied up in issues with Enron. I lost my job during an economic downturn. I was out of work for nearly 10 months. My heart goes out to each and everyone that drives into parking lot. I know it takes a lot of courage to wait in line. I try to make the experience as hassle-free as possible. I like to joke with the customers and try to guess how many people are in their family. I like it to be a personal experience. I want them to know this is a judgement-free zone. We have a saying in the 19th Ward Mutual Aid group. It is “Neighbors Helping Neighbors”. If families can divert their funds from food to rent or mortgage, we keep more neighbors. People will not be forced to move. I think that is important. Our enclave here is really special and we should be proud. If I did not have faith in our community, we could not have started the 19th Ward Mutual Aid group. It is the power of our wonderful volunteers; our neighbors that allowed the Free Store to continue.
Paid for by Noonan For 19
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