You Have To Have A Sense of Urgency Before An Emergency
When announcements were made in late March funding opening up funding for COVID-19 response, we knew that marginalized communities would be in need of items that there would be inequitable access to. We secured funding for ABIPA CARE(Community Activated Relief Equitably). With the support from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina , we were able to provide 1,000 masks and 250 sanitation care bags during our initial COVID-19 response. There were three specific focuses of this project:
1.Mass mask distribution to include education flyer that is attached to each mask.
With this initial funding we were able to purchased 1,000 masks from Eagle Market Streets Development which not only helped to get masks out to at risk individuals within the African American community, but it will also create income for African American Women that sew.
We included mask distribution integration into the service that our ladies provide at the Community Engagement Markets they facilitate by including an education bag that includes a mask that will be placed in the boxes that get distributed. Additionally we made deliveries of individual request for masks to people that live in the historically African American neighborhood, churches, and individuals that are still working and organizations that need masks for their workers and clients.
We also asked that community members come along side us and match a mask either with donations of masks or funds to further our efforts of mask and CARE bag distribution. We received additional masks donations from Southside Rising who had funding for masks. I informed them of my desire to circulate the funding in the community and they too utilized Eagle Market Streets for the masks production of the masks that they donated to us to distribute. We received almost 500 masks that were sewn by community members and directly donated to us.
2.Wellness and sanitation needs assessment calls to include Covid -19 Prevention education tips and a social determinants of health Survey.(To help anchor and intentionally pivot our prevention efforts for our county funding and be able to provide data to back up our efforts). Team members were responsible for the delivery of the Care Bags as (Everyday Details) to the individuals that they conducted the survey(ABIPA) for continuity. Current Survey Results summary is attached.
3.Delivery of ABIPA Sanitation Care Bags. The FREE Sanitation Care Bags were delivered by ABIPA’s Everyday Details Co-op agility shifting from home cleaning service due to risk of entering homes which again allowed our ladies to serve utilizing no contact deliveries and receive extra hazard pay during this emergency. In contrast to the mass mask distribution, the bags were delivered according to direct immediate need identified in the surveys. This allowed us to limit distribution because the bags are valued at over $50 each. The Asheville Housing Authority passed out our COVID-19 one pager I developed in their senior dinner distribution that included our contact information for individuals to call in if they needed masks or supplies. At the peak of our efforts we were receiving over 50 calls a day for the bags. The bags included: Mask,Paper towels (2 Rolls), Toilet paper(4 rolls), Disinfectant wipes, Disinfectant Spray,Dish washing liquid, Laundry detergent, Bleach, Water, Alcohol/Hand sanitizer, and Vitamin C
Thank You To The Poor People’s Campaign
The Western Region Circle of the NC Poor People’s Campaign together with the YWCA of Asheville, partnered with ABIPA and BeLoved Asheville to collect items for our neighbors in need in Buncombe County.Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they sponsored Drive-By, Drop-Off on six days over the first two weeks in June.
Bins were placed to accept donations of needed items. The first three days, June 1, 3 and 5, items were collected for ABIPA for the care packages the organization is creating and distributing, and collections on June 8, 10 and 12 went to BeLoved Asheville for distribution.Enough was collected on the days designated for ABIPA to add to 20 care bags valued at $50 each(an equivalent of $1000)in addition to $1,103.00 in cash donations!
Community Connections In Warp Drive During A Pandemic
In March of 2020 Dogwood Health Trust provided us with a mini grant to pay for the purchase of cell phones and three months of service so that our team could be responsive by making wellness check calls and conduct our social determinants of health surveys without having to utilize their personal phones.
At the beginning of April we started off with funding for just 1,000 mask from CFWNC. However we must thank Duwane Barton for passing the baton. He had secured a mini grant with DHT to distribute masks. Knowing that we were already working in the Community Health Worker space he called me to let me know he would like to have the opportunity transferred to ABIPA since we were already doing this type of work. After we spoke he made the formal request and DHT reached out to us. Initially the opportunity was leveraged to acquire an in kind donations of an additional 6860 mask which were a combination of reusable mask and disposable surgical masks and funding to partner with the Change Agent, Philip Cooper who delivered over 2,000 of the first mask allotment mentioned to Burke and Rutherford counties.
As previously mentioned we intentionally partnered with Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation to make the masks. After we received our first donation of masks from DHT for distribution, I shared that I intentionally used EMSD as our mask producer for the initial funding we received from CFWNC because I wanted to infuse funds into an African American Business while trying to get supplies out to the community equitably. With that said DHT utilized EMSD as an additional vendor. Through our partnership with EMSD we were able to support them receiving almost $30,000 to leverage they were doing with local sewers employed by EMSD while they supported our direct efforts. Ultimately, the initial community investment in us for 1,000 masks was leveraged to distributing over 100,000 masks through a combination of individual donations from local ladies that were sewing from their hearts and in-kind donations from Dogwood Health Trust and United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County who supplied us with 7,000 masks, in addition to Souithside Rising Community Organization who donated 1, 250 masks. Realizing that churches have been financially impacted by not holding services over the last few months,we were also able to furnish 40 churches with Sanitation bags that included masks, sanitizer, and touchless thermometers in preparation for whenever they decide to safely open back up.
The pandemic as unsettling as it has been on so many levels amplified our ability to mobilize. We were able to expand our reach as we distributed masks beyond our traditional service delivery in Buncombe county to now include Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Gaston, Haywood, Henderson, Lincoln, Rutherford, Swain, and Transylvania, and Swain counties.
There are so many layers that need to be addressed during the current climate of our county, mask distribution has been one small and impactful way that we have been able to respond true to our commitment to prevention. In addition to our staff scheduling and being greeters at the free community COVID-19 Screening they have served as frontward facing essential workers. We have continued to provide food through the free Community Engagement Markets facilitated by our Community Health Workers in partnership with Buncombe County in addition to our core work of health education and connecting individuals to resources.