Neighbors Helping Neighbors


Dear Sherman Gardens Neighbors:

In this extraordinary COVID-19 time, all of us are responsible not only for doing everything we can to protect ourselves, but also to take action (and inaction) for the good of others. As a housing cooperative, the idea of joint action for the good of all is built into our DNA and governing principles. In this spirit, the Sherman Garden Residents Association is establishing a method by which we can, in a limited way, try to make sure none of us is without support and necessities, particularly those who are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The plan, which we are calling Sherman Garden Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN), is a work in progress and subject to change. It will begin Monday, March 30 and include these elements:

1. NHN Coordinators. Each building will have a NHN Coordinator (who may be the same person or different from your regular Building Coordinator(s)). That person will have a list of people who have agreed to be volunteer Helpers, along with the times they are available and the tasks they are able to help with. If you, as a resident, need one of the services listed below, you can call your NHN Coordinator, who will try to find a Helper for you. We have chosen to use Coordinators for this task to prevent anyone or two Helpers from getting all the calls and lessen anxiety all around. It is possible a Helper will not be immediately available for the kind of help you need. You are of course also free to call on any friend or relative for help.
The following are the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Coordinators for each building:
1856 – Mary Jo Huck               773-469-4256
1860 – Allen Feuerstein           847-682-8039
1862 – John Coughlin               630-207-4400
1864 – Sarah Vanderwicken    773-507-2864
1866 Joanie Wilkins                  847-867-2351

2. Helpers Several people have already volunteered to be Helpers, and we hope more will volunteer after you read this letter. Depending on what they are comfortable doing, Helpers may provide some or all of the following services:

• Grocery shopping (including hardware store etc.)
• Picking up prescriptions
• Bringing packages or mail from the lobby up to your apartment
• Providing child care relief to parents
• Telephone check-ins on a regular basis (timing to be worked out) to make sure you are doing ok
• Phone or computer-based conversation
• Other needs as expressed and available. (remote tech support and advice for example? Translation help?)
To volunteer to become a Helper, please contact Sarah Vanderwicken by email to or call or text her at 773-507-2864 and she’ll get you a form to fill out telling us your availability regarding time and services.

Note that grocery and other shopping is probably best suited to be done by our younger (under 60) residents who will be going out to do their own shopping anyway.

3. Health and Safety Guidelines must be followed. These include:

a. Helpers and residents should not interact face to face. They can connect with each other through the phone/email and by leaving money and purchases outside the resident’s door.

b. Helpers should practice social distancing when they are outside their homes, keeping at least 6 feet away from others to the extent possible, not going out for volunteer tasks if they have symptoms, washing hands thoroughly before and after engaging in any services/tasks under this plan, refraining from shaking hands and coughing or sneezing into their hands (use tissue or elbow).

c. Helpers should not re-use grocery bags when getting items for residents. Get new paper or plastic ones from the store. Avoid touching doorbells or knockers
with your fingers.

4. Community Agreements Everyone who takes part in Neighbors Helping Neighbors must agree to these Community Agreements, in addition to the Health and Safety Guidelines, above:

• All information about residents’ needs and circumstances is confidential and will not be shared without their permission.
• Assume everyone’s best intentions – NHN coordinators and helpers may not be able to be fully responsive to needs but are sure to be trying their best. Be flexible and gracious.
• No liability or blame can be attributed to the Sherman Garden Residents Association or Trustees, or to coordinators or volunteer helpers.
• This program is a work in progress and depends on the continued willingness and capacity of all participants. If it doesn’t work it won’t continue. But we will all try to make it work, and, as they occur to us, provide suggestions for improvement to a NHN coordinator or the Association President.
• Neighbors Helping Neighbors is being established only for the duration of the shelter-in-place directives issued by the state or city.
• Payment for items should be made immediately or as agreed upon in advance by the resident and the Helper. Possible methods: If both parties agree to payment by check, the Helper can call from the store and tell the resident the amount of the bill, and the resident can put the check for that amount in an envelope outside their door. If both parties have access to Venmo, Paypal, Zelle or similar electronic transfer, they can use that method (preferable to cash payments in terms of safety).

5. Resource List The NHN organizers have developed a Resource List, with information about delivery services available for a fee, how to get federal, state and local information about COVID 19, unemployment benefits, access to free entertainment, etc. The Resource List will be on the website under the NHN Resource List tab at the top. If you do not have access to the website, your NHN Coordinator can provide you with a copy (though it may not include updates). You are encouraged to use these other services for your needs as you are able.

6. From the Trustees: If you develop symptoms of the coronavirus (fever, dry cough, and/or shortness of breath) or if you feel you have been exposed to the virus, please let a trustee know so that an extra thorough cleaning can be done in your building. We would expect you to self-quarantine, but if you start showing symptoms, please notify anyone else here at SGA that you may have come into contact with after your exposure. Confidentiality will be honored as much as possible.

7. You can help even more. Here are some of many ways you can help your broader community:
Donate to Connections for the Homeless or Interfaith Action.
Donate blood to the American Red Cross
Donate to Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund (a new program of Evanston Community Foundation
Donate to Chicago Food Depository

Thanks for reading this to the end! Please take advantage of the information provided and consider volunteering for one or more of the kinds of services indicated above (or additional services you can provide in a safe way). To volunteer to be a Helper, please contact Sarah Vanderwicken by email to or call or text her at 773-507-2864 and she’ll get you a form to fill out telling us your availability regarding time and services.

Stay Well!

Sherman Garden Residents Association