During this COVID-19 pandemic, community needs beyond medical care have grown and local nonprofits working directly to meet those needs can use additional support to do so. In particular, with the unemployment rates, many people who had not needed help accessing food, are now turning to food drives and community organizations for support in obtaining their basic daily needs.1 It is in times of hardship that community is more important than ever. Even during this time of social distancing, we can still find ways to safely connect with our neighbors and provide assistance.
To support our local communities and help fill a volunteer gap, KIPP SoCal partnered with the YWCA of the Harbor Area, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. “To serve our neighborhood directly, [this YWCA] started a Food Distribution Program because we saw that as an immediate need,” stated Sonia Bailey, Executive Director at YWCA of the Harbor Area. So this past week, we worked together on a successful free food drive that provided everything from beans, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, salads, squash, tomatoes to blueberries, strawberries, and baked goods to over 100 families facing food insecurity.
“I have really appreciated being able to learn from the beautiful ways the YWCA of the Harbor Area works alongside the community,” said Founding School Leader at KIPP Generations Academy, Tricia K. Dong. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with them and be able to see firsthand the impact they have made on San Pedro,” she added. “To me, this partnership is just the beginning of opportunities we can provide our students, families, and the community. I believe our collaboration will continue to amplify and elevate San Pedro and the South Bay!”
To add, the YWCA of the Harbor Area’s Food Distribution Program not only provides quality food from a local farmer, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods to families experiencing hardship, but they also bring nutritional empowerment by cooking donated produce to promote healthy habits and introduce new dishes to community members. Then, the small percentage of food that is not distributed is put into their compost bins to undergo the process of making it into fertilizer for their preschoolers’ garden boxes. “Children at a young age can start learning how to grow their own vegetables and see how fun it is to grow them locally,” stressed Bailey. “We have to learn to respect our environment and keep it for the next generation.”
Since 1918, through advocacy and local programming, the YWCA has helped create real change for communities. They continue working for the empowerment, leadership and rights of women and girls and have been a pioneer in the fight for racial and social justice. “All of our work has a racial justice element — we promote ‘Eliminating Racism’ in our daily operations and daily lives,” added Bailey. The YWCA of the Harbor Area also provides valuable nonpartisan voter education information, program efforts to help those that may need a second chance to get on their feet, and much more to serve neighborhoods directly.
In fact, a single mother found herself feeling alone with limited funds at a domestic violence shelter and seeked help from the YWCA of the Harbor Area for childcare for her young child. Not only did she receive that support, but she now has a stable job at YWCA’s thrift store and is moving into permanent housing with her daughter who is thriving and excited to soon attend KIPP Generations.
As Ms. Dong has mentioned, “when we think about ... empowering our present and brightening our future, it cannot be done without the work we do with our community members.” She concludes, “I am excited to continue partnering with the YWCA of the Harbor Area and grow our work together in many ways! We already have more ideas from volunteering at their community garden to attending their afternoon tea events to sharing social justice curriculum. My hope is that all of this continuous and meaningful collaboration will continue to build a better tomorrow for our community.”
1 Community Needs During The COVID-19 Outbreak. Retrieved from www.communitiescount.org.