What We're Doing
ANOTHER MASECA MONDAY
Each Monday, our Cinco Panes team meets to distribute food to needy families. Providing rice, beans, and Maseca for immigrant families sends the message that we see them, we recognize their needs, and we honor their culture as they struggle to care for their families during difficult times.
We focus on between 30 and 50 of the most vulnerable families each week, and try to pay attention to the special circumstances of each family. Most lack transportation, and many are dealing with health issues or special needs. Our client volunteers drop off food for these folks.
My deliveries yesterday included M, a single woman in her 50s who contracted COVID-19 at work. Her food box focused on items that will help her remain in quarantine in her room to help keep the other families who share the home from contracting the virus. She has no family to care for her as she battles the virus.
N, a 32-year-old Type 1 diabetic, also received a box. She and her sister live together, and N is now caring for her sister, who has COVID-19. The two women and their five children are all in quarantine, and no one is working. Their box balanced the needs of a diabetic adult with the snack preferences of four teen boys and a toddler.
D and her husband are an elderly couple from the Dominican Republic. We began helping them when D's husband was diagnosed with leukemia. They're long-time naturalized US citizens who live on Social Security income. D loves for us to go inside their tiny apartment and pray with them, but "Bendiciones!" and "God Bless You!" called through the door will have to suffice for now. She stayed at the door, waving and calling out until I was out of sight.
Z is a single mom with a teen and a 5-year-old. She receives SSI and child support payments for her 5-year-old son with autism that total $1200 per month -- and the rent is $1,080. Her domestic partner recently moved out, leaving her to pay all of this month's rent and utilities. We provide her with milk, yogurt, and fruits so she can make smoothies for her son.
We see immigrants, we recognize their needs, and we honor their culture as they struggle. Our volunteers are a tangible reminder to each of these people of God's love and care for each one of them.
REALLY FEELING THE STRESS
These past weeks have all been difficult. But this week has been especially hard: we now have heads of households diagnosed with COVID-19 and people unable to work due to illness or quarantine of their entire family.
People are very concerned about being able to keep up with rent and utilities.
Housing is expensive, and immigrants often work for low wages.
Many families face challenges in finding affordable housing
, including the ones mentioned above. N and her sister crowd two active families into a small townhouse. M rents rooms to strangers. Z can't afford an apartment on her own but also can't rent rooms to others. Only D and her husband are able to access truly affordable, subsidized housing as US citizens.
Within the Latino immigrant community, housing is frequently shared by several unrelated individuals or families who rent rooms and share kitchens and bathrooms with others in the home. Not exactly ideal conditions in times of the coronavirus! But for most, it's the only way to afford housing in an expensive housing market
Our families recognize that while they may not have their utilities shut off for nonpayment, and their landlords can't evict them right now, those debts won't go away. Once we settle into a new normal, those back payments will have to be paid, but work hours may have been reduced and some people won't have a job to return to. Most of these folks haven't received Economic Impact payments and won't be receiving unemployment benefits.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has established a fund to help with some of these most pressing needs. Through the
Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund
, we can provide $200 grants to immigrant families in need. We can then assess other needs and help the family in other ways. This is just one more way we can stand alongside some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Please give to support this fund that's available to us (Greg and Sue) as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Field Personnel!
Each week, bags of Maseca, rice, and beans are dropped off at
Fredericksburg Baptist Church
for us to distribute. Thank you!! To date, we've been able to provide everyone with these essential staples. We're so thankful for an Encourager Church that supports us so well.
In addition to the weekly Maseca Mondays, I keep a supply of these items handy to provide to others that I talk with during the week. Immigrants are very proud and often hesitant to ask for help. Having something available means I can ask, "How are you doing?" and then respond with "Could I share this with you? Maybe it will help a little bit."