We Care Van Delivers Support to Neighbors in Need

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By Cree Noble
Team Coordinator

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 31% of adults in the United States are having feelings of depression and anxiety this year. Pre-COVID, that percentage on average was half of that. With the rise of conversations and more awareness around mental health services, the 2021 Chicago Peace Fellows wants to help bring more understanding about mental health services to the communities they serve.

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We Care Van is one out of the six projects that the Chicago Peace fellows started this year. The overall goal of this project was to provide health and wellness needs to communities across the West and South sides.

The first event was bagging personal toiletry items, PPE supplies, and other goods inside care packages that would be passed out during future events. Fellows, Mekazin Alexander, Raynetta Greenleaf, David Rojas, Jr. and a youth volunteer Sabre Alexander helped to create these care packages.

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On November 22nd, at Stone Temple Church, a community event took place and people received turkey’s, books, fresh fruits, and vegetables. To better understand the health needs of the community. The We Care Van came out to support the event. Fellows Mekazin Alexander and David Rojas, Jr. set up a table to facilitate self-reported mental health assessments and referrals to mental health facilities for therapy services.

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During the event the We Care Van provided personal hygiene packages, hats, hoodies, PPE, and medicinal teas to those who completed an assessment. Over 22 assessments were completed and referrals were given to each participant. 

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“therapy has such a negative stigma in Black and Brown communities. We need to show up and bring it, explain it, and provide it for free!” -- Mekazin Alexander

The We Care Van team’s goal is to have an actual van that drives around the city providing knowledge about therapy and trauma, assessments, and referrals to Black and Brown mental health professionals. Mekazin says, “this is really a need in under-resourced communities that experience so much trauma. If we are talking about reducing violence, we need something in place to do so.”

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