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This summer, I am working with two organizations in my hometown of Charlotte, NC: The Latinamerican Coalition and The Charlotte Bilingual Preschool. COVID-19 has especially impacted the low-income Latinx community here in Charlotte, and these two organizations are working to help in any way they can. They run a hotline and put a number out into the community that people can call if they are struggling to buy food. I was quickly immersed in the work they are doing, and my first assignment was to take on a list of almost 60 families who were on a waitlist to receive help. My first week was all about finding various resources in the community and referring all 60 families to some sort of free food source, from organizations offering ready-to-eat meals to churches offering food pantries. My next tasks will be to take over another food program they are offering with a local partner, to aid them in creating virtual workshops for families to find community in these times of isolation, and to help organize distribution of donated computers.

I, like everyone should, know that this pandemic is disproportionately affecting low-income minority communities, and the work I am doing has allowed me to see this first-hand. Talking to families telling me that they lost their source of income while taking their information to refer them to food pantries, listening to the voice of hurting mothers who just want the best for their kids, reading through the lists of people in need of a short drive from my house. I know that I am in a place of privilege as a Latina living comfortably during this time of isolation, and that is why I am doing this work, to help in any way I can. I often have moments of anger in which I think about how unfair this time is. How because many of these families are undocumented, they are receiving no help from the government. How even the families who have documents are not receiving enough help. I am not surprised that this is how the pandemic is playing out, that low-income minorities are suffering the most, but it still angers me, and I am channeling my anger to focus on the work I can do in the hopes to support my community.

I am most excited about seeing the progress these organizations are able to make throughout these eight weeks and after. I fully believe in the work they are doing to help this community, and I am so grateful that I get to be a part of their initiatives. I still feel worried from time to time that I won’t be able to answer someone’s questions or that I am doing something wrong, but I just take it all one thing at a time and recognize that it is going to take some time to catch up to the incredible work that has already been done. I look forward to the rest of my time working with these organizations and community and am excited to continue to play my part in helping in any way possible.