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West Side Volunteers Helping Neighbors Beat The Heat

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church's JLM Abundant Life Community Center on the West Side is serving as a cooling center for local residents without air conditioning. (Credit: CBS)

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church’s JLM Abundant Life Community Center on the West Side is serving as a cooling center for local residents without air conditioning. (Credit: CBS)

Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – As the temperatures head into the dangerous heat zone, at least one West Side community group was heading outside.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports volunteers at the community center for Mt. Vernon Baptist Church were going door-to-door on Tuesday to help their neighbors.

All week, they’ve been giving away water, ice, and fruit to residents in the East Garfield Park neighborhood.

The big gym inside the church serves as a cooling center, but in this dangerous heat, volunteers not waiting for people to come to the church on their own.

Dr. Johnny Miller, the church’s pastor, was taking groups of young volunteers door-to-door to check on neighborhood residents.

“We’re going to reach out to them, because some people won’t request the help, even though they need it,” Miller said.

One of the residents they visited on Tuesday was Latrisha Washington, who was inside a stifling home with no air conditioning.

“It feels like about maybe 105 in here,” she said.

Washington has six kids and said she’s concerned about them, but “I know I have nowhere else to take my kids, so this is where I’m at.”

Miller invited Washington and her children to the air-conditioned community center at his church, were there is also food, ice and bottled water.

The church community center could use supplies – window air conditioners, fans, or water. Donations can be taken to the center at 2622 W. Jackson Blvd.

Meantime, at Loyola University’s Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park, officials have already seen an increase in patients with heat-related illnesses.

“We are already busy,” said Dr. Karen Spangle. “The extremes of age – the very young and the very old – who don’t regulate their temperature as well. So those folks are coming in dehydrated, and in need of medical care.”

In nearby Oak Park, Rob Neuman – whose daughter attended a field hockey camp on Tuesday – took extra precautions to help his daughter stay safe.

“I give her a half gallon water jug every day,” he said. “I check when she gets home, and usually it’s pretty close to empty.”

Right after the camp ended, they headed home to their air-conditioned house.