Frequently Asked Questions – Volunteer

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with 19th Ward Mutual Aid. While asylum seekers are sheltering at the 22nd District (D22), the effort to provide them with essentials is volunteer led. As a member of the Chicago Police Station Response Team, 19th Ward Mutual Aid is managing the efforts at D22.

Police stations across the city are meant to be temporary a place for asylum seekers to wait until a shelter bed becomes available at one of the refugee shelters. The wait can be as short as a day or longer than 10 days. Most of the individuals and families at D22 are Venezuelan, though we have had some Angolan people as well.

You may connect with other volunteers on this WhatsApp thread and be connected with subgroups from there.

What the relationship between D22 and 19th Ward Mutual Aid?

Through the Chicago Police Station Response Team, 19th Ward Mutual Aid is coordinating the effort at D22. To streamline efforts and ease the burden on the officers working at D22, all donations and food drop offs should be coordinated through 19th Ward Mutual Aid. 19th Ward Mutual Aid is also working closely with Turpin Cares, which is providing hygiene items, and Edna White Gardens, which is providing daily respite for the asylum seekers.

What are the current needs?

Meal drop offs are always needed; sign up for a spot on the meal sign up. Further instructions are at the top of the meal sign up. Be sure to use the sign up any tme you plan to bring a meal to avoid duplication of efforts.

You can also be connected with subgroups formed around education, translation, medical needs, clothing sorting, distribution of clothing and essentials, laundry, coordination of showers for asylum seekers, a welcome committee, and more. If you have new ideas or talents you can lend, you may reach out to Tim to discuss.

How is delivery of clothing and other essentials being coordinated?

Upon arrival at D22, asylum seekers are greeted by a welcome committee and provided with a form (available in paper upon arrival) to indicate their needs. The distribution subgroup works to deliver these items within 1-3 days. Distribution of essentials is being tracked here. You can be connected with the welcome committee or distribution subgroup for information on how to get involved.

If you are approached by an asylum seeker with a request, you are welcome to fulfill that request as you wish or you can send the request along to the distribution subgroup.

Can I be reimbursed for items/meals purchased for asylum seekers?

If you are seeking to purchase something and be reimbursed, please contact Tim first to discuss. 19th Ward Mutual Aid has funds available help our neighbors and we are funding many needs.

19th Ward Mutual Aid is part of the Open Collective, a communal mutual aid fund for the city. As D22 is currently well resourced with volunteers and donations, we have not utilized this fund and wish to preserve it for stations with greater need at this time.

19th Ward Mutual Aid has dry goods and nonperishables in a warehouse (rice, pasta, etc). If you would like to access any of this food to prepare a meal, please contact Tim.

What do I need to know about working with asylum seekers?

Please remember the importance of respecting the dignity and privacy of our new neighbors. Do not take pictures without permission, do not post any pictures without permission, and do not publicly share information that could reveal identities and locations. Discussion on work or living arrangements is prohibited as there are legality concerns.

If an asylum seeker shares a medical concern with you, please reach out to Tim who can connect you with the medical team. Please respect their privacy and do not share the concern on a public forum.

Unfortunately, there are reports of people attempting to take advantage of asylum seekers. If you see someone approach an asylum seeker with an offer of work or if something does not seem right, please document all information and report it to Tim.

Our new neighbors have endured trauma and still face many unknowns. Practice empathy vs. sympathy.

If you are approached by a member of the media to discuss 19th Ward Mutual Aid’s efforts, please refer them to Tim as the spokesperson.

About 19th Ward Mutual Aid: 19th Ward Mutual Aid was formed in early 2020 during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to address the needs of the community. With much of the community’s service worker population unemployed, needs were not being met. The organization, created and run by Tim Noonan as an all-volunteer effort, created a weekly food pantry that fed nearly 20,000 people over the next year. The 19th Ward Mutual Aid has also previously fought book bans with the Maus Project, and organized neighbors to build a fence and design a garden for a local shelter that cares for abused women and children. Currently, 19th Ward Mutual Aid is focused on welcoming asylum seekers to our neighborhood and meeting their basic needs as part of the Chicago Police Station Response Team. 19th Ward Mutual Aid is part of the Chicagoland Food Sovereignty Coalition.

Tim can be reached at or 773-852-3080.