Ideas for Spending That Stimulus Check

support the most vulnerable

This is part of an amazing series created and generously shared by Ricardo Levins Morales for this time of crisis. Check out the whole series on his Facebook page and at his studio

I got my $1,200 stimulus check today, and I’m proud to say that most of it is gone already. I still have some work, as well as Social Security (yes, I’m old), so I don’t “need” the money as much as others do. I chose to donate most of it to places that help people who do need the money, many of whom will not get stimulus checks. If you can, I hope you will consider doing the same. Here are some of my choices for places to donate.

The MN Immigrant Families Fund is a grassroots fundraising effort to support immigrant families who don’t qualify for local, state or federal support,  and for those who, because of COVID-19, may be pushed even deeper into the shadows with little or few resources available to meet their immediate needs. This moment reminds us that we must and are capable of showing up in radical solidarity with one another. So this partnership between Navigate/UnidosMN, Black Immigrant Collective, ISAIAH, Asamblea de Derechos Civiles and Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), aims to raise financial resources to support individuals and families who would otherwise be left behind and out in our current crisis response.

Even before the pandemic and economic collapse, many people relied on food shelves. With job losses, many more need help desperately. Second Harvest Heartland  is a food bank and distributes food to more than 1,000 partners in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Keystone Community Services is my neighborhood food shelf.

Homeless people are especially at risk during this COVID-19 pandemic. St. Stephen’s in Minneapolis provides street outreach, emergency shelter, and supportive housing. Domestic violence is hard to escape when you can’t leave home. Women’s Advocates helps survivors of domestic abuse to find shelter and offers resources, especially during this COVID-19 crisis.

Where do you get health care if you have no insurance? Minnesota Community Care is a network of community clinics where all people have access to health care regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. It can be a little difficult to locate their donation page from their website, so here is the link.

Besides immediate physical needs for food, shelter, and medical care, people need legal protection. That’s especially true for those who are already in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers, where “social distancing”  and sanitation are both impossible.

The Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies have thrown tens of thousands of immigrants into crowded detention centers. Some have lived and worked in the United States for decades. Some arrived more recently seeking opportunity and a better life for their children. Some came here fleeing persecution and torture in their countries. Without legal representation, they are at the mercy of an administration determined to deport every immigrant they can.

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota  provides immigration legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees and advocates for more just and humane state and federal policies which respect the universal human rights of immigrants. The Advocates for Human Rights organization also represents immigrants and refugees, and advocates for human rights here and around the world.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund posts criminal bail and immigration bond for people who cannot afford to do so. Their website describes their commitment in the current crisis:

“We say again: it is wrong to cage people, to jail those who are not a risk to themselves or their communities, to imprison those who cannot afford to pay the ransom of bail, and to hold in detention those whose “crime” is being born in a different part of the world. It has been wrong to do this, and now, to this baseline immorality is added the monstrous act of telling these people that their lives are literally not worth saving.”

I am a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-MN), which stands up every day against the insanity and inhumanity of this administration. On April 15, ACLU-MN filed a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at Moose Lake, where COVID-19 is spreading.

“Twelve people incarcerated at MCF-Moose Lake already have tested positive for the virus, and 31 more are presumed to have it. At least 11 correctional staff also are reported to have COVID-19, allowing the virus to spread back into the community.

“The prison is failing to fulfill its constitutional duty to keep people safe. The prison is still holding as many as eight men in a single cell, and permitting unrestricted access to showers, communal phones, vending machines and other facilities.”

Every non-profit organization faces enormous challenges during the recession / depression / economic catastrophe that goes with the pandemic. People who have lost their jobs or their businesses, people who now have to stay home with their children who are out of school, people who are sick, people who are enduring the long recovery period from the virus all need community support for their food, shelter, health care, and other needs. If you can help in any way, however large or small, now is a good time to give.

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