COVID19 – Organizations Stepping In

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“In response to COVID-19, Amplifier launched an emergency campaign with top art curators and public-health advisors from around the world looking for public health and safety messages that can help flatten the curve through education and symbols that help promote mental health, well-being, and social change work during these stressful times.” Artwork by Skye Strum

I’ve been in a funk this week. To get through the funk I decided to ask others what overlooked causes need some love. My friends didn’t disappoint me, they shared many causes and community spirit happening right now.

Listed below are POC groups and organizations doing great things to serve their community during COVID19. Many of these are in Seattle. For those of you outside of Seattle, I hope you will take some time to research and learn about community groups and small nonprofits serving the community during COVID19. It is easy to overlook smaller groups who are often very in touch with community members and coming up with community solutions to problems.

Before I get to the list, I want to share a few other highlights that might have gotten overshadowed because of COVID19. First, it is Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Earlier this month was also the Japanese celebration kodomo no hi, Children’s day, May 5. Normally I’d take my kids to the Japanese Community Cultural Center for their children’s day festival. My youngest asked about it and was bummed she wouldn’t get to fish for a balloon yo-yo (a fave activity at the festival) like she has in the past. Instead, we read a Jasmine Toguchi book by Debbi Michiko Florence featuring a Japanese girl and talked about Japanese traditions, and attempted to fold origami creations.

May 5 was National Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day. Take a moment to learn about our stolen sisters. Just because COVID19 is in the headlines shouldn’t take away from this longstanding injustice to Native and Indigenous women.

POC Led and Embedded Organizations Helping Out

UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance) is a queer and trans people of color-led, grassroots organization working to build resilience in the Queer and Trans Pacific Islander (QTPI – “Q-T-pie”) community in South King County. During COVID19 they put together a relief fund to support QTPI community, virtual support groups, and even shifted their luau into a virtual event.

Pacific Islander Health Board put together a relief fund to support their community. They also have been sharing information about COVID19 with the Pacific Islander community.

Interim CDA has been delivering food to seniors. It started as a grassroots effort to make sure seniors living in the Seattle International District didn’t have to put their health at risk to get food. Make sure to watch the video.

Kandelia (formerly Vietnamese Friendship Association) quickly reached out to many of their students, all refugees or immigrants, and learned about the great needs within their school community. Kandelia quickly set up food delivery, rent assistance and other services.

While many of us are increasingly conscious about how we get food into our homes with COVID19 out there HUG – Hilltop Urban Gardens in Tacoma, WA has been working on this for years. My friend Mijo shared this: “[A] lot of us are learning about food supply chains, food deserts, neighborhood mutual aid, and food sovereignty for the first time. HUG has BEEN organizing around those issues for years, in a firmly anti-racist, pro-Black/queer/trans way. In skills and knowledge and relationships, they’re exceptionally well-equipped to feed and care for the Hilltop community – they just need more financial resources.”

Na’ah Ilahee Fund is a Native American youth serving program around STEM. I recently had a video chat with a friend who works there. She shared how they have stepped into the space of providing emergency aid to their families, including food deliveries, at-home activities for youth, and also continuing their work around food sovereignty and other programs. Their Native Community Crisis Response Fund: Covid19 is led by the Native community for the Native community which has been hard hit by coronavirus.

Somali Parent Education Board and African Community Housing Development support the Somali and East African immigrant communities in South King County. During COVID19 they quickly heard from families who were struggling to feed their families – especially with kids home from school, provide educational activities, and help families with rent.

Open Arms Perinatal Services provides doula and other support to birthing people which helps to promote a healthy start to life. Birth is normally a time of high-touch as well as vulnerability. Open Arms has adapted their services to continue to remain as high-touch as possible with phone check-ins, and now adapting to providing delivery services to families of food, baby supplies, etc. The challenges remain on securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for their doulas to use during delivery and post-partum services. People have generously donated cloth masks, but PPE is still needed.

Allies Stepping In

When schools closed WA-BLOC (Washington Building Leaders of Change) quickly set up a meal site. Twice a week they partner with local POC owned restaurants to provide about 150 meals to community members in Rainier Beach. Anyone can walk up to receive a meal. By partnering with restaurants they are helping to keep small businesses going too. (WA-BLOC is embedded in the Rainier Beach community. The organization leadership is cross-racial.)

I hope you’ll take some time to find and share organizations in your community that are stepping in. Give them a boost – donate if you can, share their good work on social media, advocate for their causes, write a letter to the editor talking about the need for small organizations to be supported during COVID19 recovery. All of these actions help.

Thank you for your Patreon support: This month we’ll be paying a portion of the support forward to POC led and embedded organizations and individuals directly impacted by COVID19. 

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