Person-to-Person Giving Network Starts

The economic chaos that the pandemic has caused among families and others in need has inspired the re-emergence of mutual aid networks across the country, and now one has started in SWCO.

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A COMMUNITY EFFORT TO CONNECT THOSE WHO NEED ASSISTANCE WITH THOSE WHO CAN PROVIDE IT HAS TAKEN ROOT IN THE FOUR CORNERS REGION, AND ITS PART OF A NATIONAL MOVEMENT TO CREATE SOCIAL NETWORKS OF PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE SUPPORT TO BUILD COMMUNITY RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF DISASTERS LIKE THE COVID PANDEMIC. YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY GOAL ACADEMY AND PUEBLO COMMUNITY COLLEGE SOUTHWEST. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. WHEN THE PANDEMIC HIT MONTEZUMA COUNTY AND THE GOVERNOR ISSUED STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS, A GROUP OF VOLUNTEERS CAME TOGETHER TO BRING FOOD AND SUPPLIES TO HOMEBOUND RESIDENTS WHO NEEDED HELP. WITHIN A FEW WEEKS, THE GROUP COALESCED INTO THE FOUR CORNERS MUTUAL AID NETWORK OFFERING PERSON-TO-PERSON ASSISTANCE THROUGH VOLUNTEERS IN CORTEZ, IGNACIO, DURANGO, SHIPROCK AND TOWOAC. THEY'RE PART OF A NATIONWIDE MOVEMENT BASED ON THE PREMISE THAT FORMAL NON-PROFIT SERVICES ARE HIERARCHICAL AND UNEQUALLY RESTRICT SUPPORT BASED ON THEIR MISSIONS OR THE CONDITIONS THAT DONORS PLACE ON THEIR DONATIONS.IT CUTS OUT A LOT OF POPULATIONS THAT ARE IN NEED, LIKE THE UNDOCUMENTED POPULATION OR THE TRANS POPULATION THAT DOESN'T HAVE, YOU KNOW, THEIR PROPER MEDICAL, NOT LICENSED AS, WHAT'S THE WORD I'M LOOKING FOR, MEDICAL DOCUMENTS. AND, BECAUSE OF THAT, YOU KNOW, LIKE EVEN IN THE NONPROFIT WORK I DO, I CAN SEE THAT THERE'S THIS GIANT HOLE THAT PEOPLE ARE JUST FALLING THROUGH. MUTUAL AID PROJECTS ARE GRASSROOTS, PERSON-TO-PERSON ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS THAT BYPASS THE NON-PROFIT MIDDLE-MAN. YOU DON'T HAVE TO QUALIFY FOR HELP FROM THE MUTUAL AID NETWORK. YOU ONLY HAVE TO ASK, AND SOMEONE IN THE NETWORK WILL STEP FORWARD TO ASSIST YOU.MOST OF US COME FROM A PRETTY STRONG BELIEF IN COMMUNITY AID, DIRECT PERSON TO PERSON. A LOT OF US HAVE WORKED FOR NONPROFITS AND IT CAN BE REALLY EXHAUSTING, REALLY TEDIOUS AID. DOESN'T GET OUT RIGHT AWAY. YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT OF STUFF THAT GOES BEHIND WORKING THROUGH A NONPROFIT. AND WE JUST DIDN'T WANT ANYONE KIND OF MAKING DECISIONS BASED ON WHO DESERVES NEED. WE'RE JUST HELPING ANYONE WHO, WHO ASKS. AND IT'S EASIER WHEN SOMEONE ASKS, HEY, I NEED FOOD. HEY, I NEED SOME SWEAT PANTS FOR MY KID. AND ONE OF US CAN JUST GO TAKE IT. LIKE THERE'S NO PROCESS BEYOND FINDING THE SUPPLIES AND GETTING IT TO PEOPLE. MUTUAL AID IS AS OLD AS HUMANITY WITH COMMUNITIES OF PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER TO ENSURE THEIR MUTUAL SURVIVAL. THE TERM WAS FIRST POPULARIZED IN A 1902 ESSAY BY A RUSSIAN PHILOSOPHER AND ANARCHIST WHO ARGUED THAT COOPERATION, NOT COMPETITION, WAS WHAT DROVE EVOLUTION AND SOCIAL CHANGE. MUTUAL AID IS A FORM OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN WHICH PEOPLE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY TO CARE FOR EACH OTHER, RECOGNIZING THAT GOVERNMENT AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS AREN'T GOING TO MEET THEIR NEEDS. TODAY, MUTUAL AID PROJECTS HAVE TAKEN SHAPE IN THE WAKE OF NATURAL DISASTERS OR TIMES OF UNREST OR ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION. DONATIONS TO A MUTUAL AID PROGRAM, UNLIKE THOSE FOR A 501-C-3 NON-PROFIT, ARE NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE, AND THE NETWORK IS NOT BOUND BY THE SAME FEDERAL AND STATE TAX LAWS AND REGULATIONS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO PROTECT DONORS AND PROVIDE PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY. BUT THAT LACK OF FORMAL ACCOUNTABILITY HASN'T HURT THE NETWORK'S ABILITY TO HELP THOSE IN NEED. SINCE THE FOUR CORNERS NETWORK CAME TOGETHER THREE MONTHS AGO, VOLUNTEERS HAVE DISTRIBUTED FOOD BOXES, HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES, GARDEN BOXES WITH SEEDS, AND MORE THAN 27 THOUSAND DOLLARS IN FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.WE'VE HAD STEADY DONATIONS. PEOPLE SEEM TO REALLY CARE. AND WE ALSO DO SPECIFIC DONATIONS FOR LIKE, IF WE NEED A FOOD RUN TO SHIPROCK, WE'RE LIKE, HEY, THIS WEEK WE NEED THIS MUCH MONEY OR THESE SUPPLIES, YOU KNOW, SO PEOPLE KNOW WHERE THEIR STUFF IS GOING. WE HAVE RECORDS OF EVERYTHING, YOU KNOW, WE'RE PRETTY ORGANIZED. WE JUST DON'T REALLY BELIEVE IN HAVING OUTSIDE FORCES DICTATE WHERE OUR STUFF GOES, WHO AM I TO CATALOG CATALOGING, QUANTIFY SOMEONE'S SUFFERING, WHICH I FEEL LIKE IS WHAT NONPROFITS DO IS LIKE THIS PERSON'S BORN DESERVING BECAUSE OF THIS. AND THERE ARE THOSE RULES. BUT WHAT I FIND IS, IT'S EASIER FOR SOMEONE TO LOOPHOLE A RULE THAN IT IS FOR THEM TO LOOK SOMEONE IN THE EYE AND SAY, CAN I PLEASE HAVE HELP? AND I THINK THERE'S THIS WALL THERE OF HUMILITY AND ACTUAL NEED. LIKE, I DON'T THINK WE'VE HAD CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG. I DON'T THINK WE'VE HAD A SITUATION WHERE IT'S LIKE, OH S*!@, THIS PERSON GOT ONE OVER ON US. YOU KNOW, LIKE IT, IT HAS BEEN PEOPLE SAYING LIKE, I NEED HELP. AND THEN WE HELP THEM. AND THEN THE COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER AND HELPS THEM. AND THEN THERE'S THIS MUTUAL TRUST BUILT AND YOU KNOW WHAT? THEY'RE GOING TO WANT TO HELP PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE. RIGHT? AND THEN THEY COME IN AND THEY HELP WHEN THEY'RE MORE STABLE. AND THEN IT'S A PRACTICE IN GOOD FAITH AND TRUST. AND LIKE THAT'S REALLY SORELY NEEDED IN SOCIETY IN GENERAL.YOU CAN ASK FOR HELP OR OFFER HELP THROUGH THE NETWORK'S WEB SITE AT FOUR CORNERS MUTUAL AID DOT COM OR ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE. THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS EDITION OF THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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