“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” -Mr. Rogers
This advice is more powerful than ever, as we find ourselves entering the 2020 holiday season. The pandemic has pushed many people — especially our most vulnerable populations — to the brink. It’s put increased stress on families in BIPOC communities who already lack sufficient access to healthcare compared to their White peers, and in the case of Latinx households, 72 percent are now experiencing significant financial stress.
Thanks to the Helpers who are stepping up for their neighbors, there’s a glimmer of hope in many American cities. This Thanksgiving, we want to give thanks to a few people who are going above and beyond for their communities.
Racial disparities regarding maternal health are worse than ever. The pandemic has forced women of color, in particular, into challenging maternal health dilemmas. Pandemic restrictions on delivery rooms in hospitals further complicate matters, and because midwifery care is often not covered by insurance or Medicaid, many women in these communities do not have access to alternative options. Yet nonprofits like Delivering Unto You and Mama Sana Vibrant Woman are stepping up to help bridge the racial gap in maternal healthcare by providing free and reduced cost maternal health services that are culturally relevant and inclusive. Their support for women of color is a literal matter of life and death — and will undoubtedly have a long lasting and positive impact on the communities they are serving.
Inspired by the Black Panther Party Free Breakfast for Children program, Homies Empowerment is trying to address economic disparities by providing their community with access to basic necessities. The community development organization launched the Free(dom) Store in 2019 — a weekly event in East Oakland that provides free food and home goods to all who come by. Since the pandemic hit in early 2020, the program has expanded to meet the growing needs of the community; starting from a small storefront, it is now a warehouse that takes up nearly half of the block. Their continued support for the families in their community — most of whom are Latinx — is proving critical at a time when the need for immediate relief is rising.
While public life comes to a standstill as a result of the pandemic, Mother Nature does not. For those impacted by increasingly severe hurricane seasons, the pandemic is making recovery more challenging than in years past. This has been particularly hard on communities throughout the Carolinas, many of which are still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Florence two years ago. Organizations like the Cape Fear Food Council are stepping up to facilitate safe and efficient food distribution in the wake of these storms. They’ve set up new networks and aid protocols along the Atlantic coast of North Carolina to better coordinate supplies, so that no one is left behind. And while many supporting these efforts are humble about their expertise in addressing food insecurity, the initiative they’re taking is making an impact and inspiring community engagement.
We launched findhelp.org in March of this year in anticipation of the increased needs from millions of people affected by the pandemic. This Thanksgiving, we’d like to extend a thank you to those who are ensuring the well-being of our communities. Their efforts are an inspiration to our team, and we’re committed to supporting them.
The photos and stories in this post were written and photographed by Resolve Magazine, an Aunt Bertha-funded initiative that spotlights critical social issues and profiles people and organizations working for positive change in their communities.