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Added: Tasheema Pavlik - Date: 25.09.2021 15:13 - Views: 45394 - Clicks: 3131

On the eve of a pandemic-induced shutdown, Dina Giovanelli was most concerned for her students at Monroe Community College. At a department meeting in early March, Giovanelli and other sociology professors discussed the unforeseen impacts of an impending campus closure because of rising coronavirus cases across the state. Giovanelli takes the pandemic seriously. But she also considered the many resources colleges provide beyond an education. MCC houses a food pantry, one that Giovanelli has led many students to personally. The Dreamkeepers program offers mini-grants for financial emergencies, like assistance with rent or unexpected car repairs.

The college provides bus passes and health services for low-income students. So, Giovanelli set up a small Facebook group of close friends and colleagues she knew could get behind the cause of looking after the well-being of others. She thought it would be a month-long project of dropping off basic necessities to students: Diapers, wipes and groceries. She invited 50 friends. Friends invited other friends, and word-of-mouth called forward thousands more — both those looking for help and those looking to give. It spread like wildfire, not unlike the pandemic which seemed to reach every part of the city within weeks.

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What do you need? What do you got? And there is a difference. Maybe I do have more of this one thing, but you have something else to offer me.

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There are ways of helping that are not necessarily reciprocating an exchange of stuff. Mutual aid is about community. The group works like this: If you need something, or have something — food, clothing, furniture, housewares and more — you submit a post to the discussion board. All are reviewed and approved by an administrator. But once a post is approved, it goes to the general membership, which can claim an item or offer help by commenting directly on the post.

Keeping exchanges visible for the entire group is important for transparency and ability, Giovanelli said. They work hard to protect the membership committed to mutual aid. And there are few warnings. The admin team is made up of individuals from all across the spectrum in terms of gender, sexuality, race and economic status — and on purpose.

Christensen said the goal is to bring different perspectives to the work they do. They want the group to feel safe and welcoming to all. While at first administrators had to actively seek donations, now they come without hesitation.

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Another member sent half. And it does more than provide immediate need. Here are some tips. Other members post job le regularly.

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Some of the most heartwarming experiences for Christensen and Giovanelli are stories of people who have gone above and beyond to create a bright spot in a dark time. One woman baked over loaves of pumpkin bread for members over the last year. During Black Lives Matter protests this summer, people shared both information and resources around mobilization and protest supplies — helmets, umbrellas, meals and coffee.

Over the holiday season, one member who donated a Black baby doll to a Black child sparked both a chain reaction of similar donations and a conversation about why representation matters. Christensen and Giovanelli took the initiative on as a special project, and volunteered to match and deliver over 60 dolls themselves in a single day. Immediately after, the group was flooded with photos of children who finally had a doll that looked like them. One member asked for ideas on how to memorialize her daughter, killed by her father 10 years ago.

And another member, who is raising her six grandchildren after her daughter was murdered intold Giovanelli the pandemic hampered her ability to buy Christmas gifts this year. On several occasions, former members who had requests denied or were removed for behavior that goes against group rules have lashed out at administrators, harassing them with foul language and making digs at their character or lives. Beyond fulfilling need and reducing waste, both women said the group has overturned stigma and allowed people to see their neighbors more clearly.

We are not in the business of entertaining liars. We all need something at some point. You need to care for other humans. If not, as a society we cannot function. As Giovanelli puts it, when she started the group, she was only alone for about 12 hours. And then the community stepped in and carried the mission forward with her, helping both it and each other survive during an otherwise isolating time.

She has no doubts it will continue long after the pandemic fades. We can do this by taking care of each other. No red tape. Not only can we affect positive change as people, we will and can continue to do it. She can be reached at kaylacanne gmail.

Facebook Twitter. Kayla Canne Contributor. Show Caption. Hide Caption. How homemade lasagna is helping overcome food insecurity in Tennessee. Share your feedback to help improve our site!

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