As tallies of coronavirus cases rise nationwide, communities across the country have started mutual aid efforts geared toward helping the most vulnerable people during this crisis. In the South, we know how to lend our neighbors a hand—or, better yet, a bowl of gumbo, roll of toilet paper, or cash to make next month’s rent. We reached out to Scalawag readers asking how your communities are organizing to care for each other.
Y’all responded with an outpouring of creative initiatives—from worker relief funds, to spiritual healing webinars, to ways we can look after our elders—that we’ve compiled below. If you’ve got resources to give, or are looking for support right now, we hope you’ll find what you need here—or inspiration for what you can start at home. This list is by no means comprehensive; If you know about projects that should be included, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be updating as we hear more.
A note: some of the resources we’ve shared here contain individual’s personal information. Please respect peoples’ privacy, and if the document we’ve linked to has specific instructions, do follow them.
Hometown Action, a multi-racial, working class collective of small town and rural Alabamians, is creating a network of community care teams across the state. They’re hosting digital healing spaces to combat social isolation, organizing a policy advocacy team, and forming a community response system to implement mutual aid for those most in need.
Folks in Birmingham have also created a mutual aid shared document. There’s an option to place a request anonymously.
A network of community members in Northwest Arkansas is matching people who need help with people who can offer support.
Tampa’s Mutual Aid Disaster Relief has experience organizing grassroots aid efforts in the wake of hurricanes. Now they’ve teamed up with the Tampa Dream Defenders to coordinate donations and volunteers.
In Tallahassee, a Community Assistance Facebook group and resource list serve as a hub for mutual aid efforts. And a Gainesville Mutual Aid Facebook group gained over 1,000 members in just a few days.
In Atlanta, the Food4Life program is delivering groceries to anyone affected by the pandemic. They’re gathering bulk food donations from grocery stores and farmers and dispatching volunteers—who are provided with protective equipment—to deliver groceries outside of peoples’ homes, avoiding direct contact.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Atlanta, which serves refugees and immigrants with resettlement, case management, and education programs, has created a Crisis Prevention Fund to crowd-source resources for their clients. Many refugees and immigrants in Georgia work in industries that are being hit hardest by the crisis—including hospitality, food services, and air travel—and won’t qualify for unemployment benefits because they haven’t worked in the U.S. long enough. The IRC will use the funds gathered to help families pay rent, utility bills, and cover basic needs in the coming weeks.
Members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America compiled a list of additional Atlanta resources, including some specifically for college students.
Mutual Aid Athens is a Facebook group that enables people to organize at the neighborhood level, or request and offer resources city-wide.
Community members in Louisville have created a High Risk Match Program aimed at connecting healthy young adults with low-risk factors for getting COVID-19 with elders who could use assistance through this crisis. Help could look like delivering essential supplies or checking in with elders by phone.
The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition has made a youth mutual aid fund to help young people who need support paying for basic needs like childcare or hot-spots for internet access. “We may be quarantined but we ain’t gonna let this isolate us,” they write.
A mutual aid group in Lexington is addressing a range of needs, from online AA groups to food for students who are out of school. And Mutual Aid Louisville is connecting people to give and receive help.
In New Orleans, as tourism all but ceases, service industry workers and artists are feeling the effects. The New Orleans Hospitality Workers’ Alliance is pushing the city to provide emergency paid sick leave, healthcare, and virus testing for workers. Helping fill in the gaps, the New Orleans Business Alliance has set up a relief fund for gig economy workers in Orleans Parish—including musicians, arena workers, and festival production staff—who have suffered a loss of income because of social isolation measures.
Community members have also created a mutual aid Facebook page where folks can post requests and offers for supplies and services.
Move On Up is dedicated to providing meals to families in Lafayette County amidst the coronavirus outbreak. “If you have lost your job because of this public health crisis, been quarantined under a doctor’s order, or been doctor diagnosed with COVID-19, we want to help with access to food,” they write.
Organizers at the University of Mississippi at Oxford have created a mutual aid spreadsheet geared towards students, faculty, staff, and Oxonians not affiliated with the university. Included on it are housing offerings for students who have been urged off campus and may not have safe homes to return to.
The Southern Vision Alliance has developed a mutual aid map showing North Carolinians where they can access resources across the state.
In Durham, North Star Church of the Arts has created the Durham Artist Relief Fund which will distribute funds to DJ’s, dancers, comedians and other artists who have lost work. Priority is being given to artists of color and transgender and nonbinary artists. Organizers in Raleigh followed North Star’s model and created their own artist relief fund, too. Indyweek has links to even more resources in the Triangle area.
Marisol Jiménez of Tepeyac Consulting is developing a series of webinars on trauma resiliency, equity issues, North Carolina policy responses, and spiritual connections called Coping with Corona: A Collective Space. Stay tuned for updates here.
The Asheville Survival Program is a Facebook group where community members can share information and request or offer help.
First Aid Collective Knoxville (FACK), a harm reduction group, has put together a collection of resources for vulnerable folks. Included are a relief fund for service industry workers and a sanitation guide for response volunteers and recipients.
The Golden Rule of COVID, they write, is: “You are never doing too much when you could be saving a life.”
Care Web Austin created a spreadsheet where people can list their needs, skills, and other information. The Democractic Socialists of America have launched mutual aid programs in San Antonio and North Texas. And there are mutual aid efforts underway in Corpus Christi, Austin, and Denton.
A group of disaster relief workers in Norfolk is organizing grocery runs and support with other errands for people in need.
In the Shenandoah Valley, a mutual aid group formed to connect residents in the towns of Stanton, Augustsa, and Waynesboro. Additionally, Shenandoah Mutual Aid is helping people find assistance with emergency housing, document translation, and more.
The Highlander Research and Education Center is hosting online gatherings via Zoom every other Wednesday to “to share our needs, strategies, and resources.”
At a time when people must be physically apart to stay safe, they say, “we still know that we need each other, that we can continue to build community in social solidarity while physically distancing, and that together we have everything we need to envision, build, and strengthen communities of care.”