North Brooklyn Mutual Aid formed in March as a community network of volunteers to help find and provide solutions to the many problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Spread out in 36 geographic “pods,” over 500 volunteers have signed up to help since March 12th, according to lead organizer and Greenpointer Kevin LaCherra.
“Populating the volunteer sheet is really is ‘A, number one,’ he said. “The larger the volunteer list we have, the better we’ll be able to respond to the different needs that come our way.” With immunocompromised people stuck inside during the pandemic, the group receives many requests for home deliveries.
“Most of those requests have been for groceries, cleaning supplies, somebody that needs someone to run errands” LaCherra said. A volunteer signup sheet on the mutual aid website asks for cross streets and the type of support volunteers can offer.
The impetus of the volunteer initiative was in mid-March when LaCherra found a mutual aid template posted online by students at Wesleyan College just as the coronavirus shutdown began.
“A lot of my work previously was around environmental justice issues, parks and open space issues, and I was like: ‘Pretty soon we’re all going to be trapped in our homes and life here is going to change fundamentally,'” LaCherra said.
Working all-night to put together a template following the Wesleyan example, LaCherra shared a GoogleDoc among his contacts to add volunteers, and to locate neighbors in need of assistance. The channels used by North Brooklyn Mutual Aid have since grown to include a slack channel and Facebook groups each for the Greenpoint and Williamsburg communities.
So far, volunteers have helped to deliver over 10,000 meals, 4,000 masks and 3,500 face shields, along with numerous groceries and supplies, according to LaCherra. North Brooklyn Mutual Aid is also collaborating with North Brooklyn Neighbors on a new version of the ‘essentially open’ map of businesses and services in the area.
Other community partners that have collaborated with North Brooklyn Mutual Aid include Woodhull Hospital, Wyckoff Hospital St. Nick’s Alliance, Los Sures Food Pantry, Northside Senior Center, Pete McGuinness Senior Center, Lindsay Park Houses, Cooper Park Houses, Berry Street Houses, Greenpoint Community Kitchen, the North Brooklyn Angels, and the BRC Men’s Shelter.
North Brooklynites who are in need help or want to get in touch with the mutual aide group can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-389-6016. Anyone interested in helping can also donate to the North Brooklyn Mutual aid relief fund.