River Forest is making sure its senior citizens are cared for during the coronavirus crisis. To assist River Forest Township carry out its already existent senior services, the village of River Forest has established the River Forest COVID-19 Senior Task Force. The groups are working together to support the health and safety of older residents in the village.

Helen Kwan is the coordinator of the new task force and is working with River Forest Township Supervisor Carla Sloan and Township Senior Services Director Pamela Mahn to make sure all older adults in the village are safe and have access to the services they need.

Letters from Kwan, Sloan, Mahn and Village President Cathy Adduci went out to all River Forest senior citizens identified as such through the senior citizen property tax exemption list, explaining the services available to seniors during the upcoming weeks and, maybe, months.

To reach senior citizens who aren’t property owners, postcards with the information will be sent to all residences in River Forest. “We want to reach as many people as we can,” said Kwan. “There might be senior citizens living with their children or renting here in the village.”

The letter and postcards outline the services available to seniors in the village.

“During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Village of River Forest, River Forest Township, and Township Senior Services want to support the health and safety of you, our older adult residents regardless of health conditions,” reads the letter.

Although village offices are closed to the public and on-site dining and group activities are suspended, senior services are still available. Township Senior Services is continuing the following, though these services are subject to change:

  • Lunch program meals, available for pickup in the parking lot at the 130 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park building
  • Home delivered meals, with delivery modifications to protect workers, volunteers and clients
  • Senior bus transportation, by appointment, for dialysis and medical appointments, with verbal health pre-screening
  • Care management team to help the most vulnerable seniors, and information team to assist with information requests and referrals

The COVID-19 Senior Task Force will support those existing services and provide volunteers to community members to assist with the following:

  • Grocery and prescription pickup
  • Dog walking
  • Snow removal and other non-direct contact needs

And River Forest residents are really stepping up to help.

“We have over 100 volunteers so far,” said Kwan, who added that all volunteers are background checked through the township and will be provided with vests so they can be easily identified out in the community.

The minimum age to volunteer is 16, said Kwan, and so far people who have signed up run the scope of age and occupation, including physicians.

“We want to stay ahead of this as much as possible,” said Kwan. “We really need to motivate the community to take care of its community members.”

Kwan made it clear that protecting the senior citizens is a village-wide effort. “We are all involved,” she said. “The police and fire departments, the village, the township. We are all working together.”

Older adults in River Forest can contact Township Senior Services at 708-383-8060 to talk to an intake staff member for assistance.

To volunteer for the task force or to make masks, email rfseniorhelp@gmail.com or call 708-613-1642.

For the most up to date information, visit vrf.us/COVID19.

Volunteers begin making face masks

Helen Kwan, coordinator of River Forest’s new senior citizen task force, and village trustee Katie Brennan are organizing residents to help make fabric masks for volunteers and seniors, coordinating with Liita Forsyth of The Little Bits Workshop to do so. Forsyth has put out an instructional video on DIY Victory Masks.


In an email to residents, Kwan and Brennan put out the word that they’re looking for people who can sew, either by hand or machine, and they may have machines they can lend.


“This project will happen in your own homes. You can pick up the materials and drop off your finished masks, or we will do the legwork for you.”


Kwan said she hopes that if enough people step up to make masks, there will be extra to provide to grocery store clerks and others in essential businesses who interact with the public.


“We want to assist emergency rooms and urgent care centers who are struggling to keep PPEs available for employees,” said Kwan. “We know the masks might not be perfect in terms of infection control, but we’re doing the best we can to help. We are going to lean on everyone’s talents and skills,” said Kwan, who pointed out that these masks are not official N95 masks.

Those who wish to help with masks can email the taskforce at rfseniorhelp@gmail.com or call 708-613-1642.

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