According to the Mutual Aid Coop, the term Mutual Aid is "a form of community cooperation where groups of people in a particular area, or from a particular community join together to support one another, meeting vital community needs without the help of official bodies." Mutual Aid groups have been growing in recent years because needs have grown while resources, especially "official" resources have not been able to keep pace with the needs.
At Open Arms Community one of the things we have always done is help the families we work with when they have needs above and beyond typical circumstances. For example, we have helped with providing extra food or helped a family keep their electricity on when they were having trouble making ends meet for the month. We have even helped with funeral expenses for a child in the past. This type of assistance is not our main function as a community outreach, but it is something that we do to help our neighbors when they have no other options and the need is desperate.
In recent conversations with other community partners, we realized that we are not the only organization who does this from time to time. There is a desire for a more centralized way to help families in need with case management as well as financial assistance. However, none of the organizations have the capacity or resources to do it all.
For now, we are starting a compromise. We call it the Latino Caucus Mutual Aid Fund. Open Arms Community will be the organization that oversees the fund. Financial gifts can be contributed by individuals or organizations who want to support their Latin@ neighbors in need who are unable to get assistance from other places for various reasons. Due to limited human resources, only one family will be assisted at a time. Those families must be referred to the fund by a partner agency.
Donations made out to Open Arms Community may be mailed to: Open Arms Community, 437 E Sprague St., Winston-Salem, NC 27127. Please be sure to note Latino Caucus Mutual Aid in the memo line.
You can also give online. Simply choose Latino Caucus Mutual Aid from the dropdown menu to be sure that your gift is directed to the correct fund.