By Regina Mazur
Keeping our community safe has been a long-standing priority of Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid (SYC/W6MA). They have been putting a continuous effort into providing our neighbors with food and supplies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnership between the Christ United Methodist Church and the Southwest Pod of SYC/W6MA, as well as their collective work with Black and Brown grassroots organizations, have proven to be an incredible contribution to this cause.
This month marks two years that the Southwest community has been coming together, providing invaluable support to each other with food, cleaning supplies, household items and clothing. The Southwest Pod is incredibly grateful for the donations and support that they continue to receive. These supplies are critical to aiding our neighbors in need. It is a great accomplishment to unite as a community and support each other.
To mark the second anniversary, we would like to share a little bit of history of how it all got started. Since March 2020, SYC has served as the infrastructure hub for Ward 6 Mutual Aid, a partnership of more than three dozen organizations—many of them hyper-local, Black- or Brown-led groups—that came together to share resources and save lives after the COVID-19 pandemic struck the district.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Maurice Cook’s Serve Your City and other Black-led organizations in Ward 6 and beyond joined with Ward 6 residents in an effort to organize W6MA. SYC/W6MA partnered with Christ United Methodist Church at the beginning of April 2020 to provide a location to accept donations and organize supplies, and to ensure that the needs that are not being met in our community are addressed. From this idea, other initiatives started to develop, and in June of 2020, several members suggested it would be great to organize a table at the Southwest Farmers’ Market to see if the vendors and residents would donate fresh produce that could be given out along with canned and dry goods.
When the Aya short-term family shelter opened in Southwest, W6MA partnered with them to assist with the needs that were not being met. The main project has been providing families with housewarming boxes of basic supplies when they move from the shelter to an apartment.
This incredible effort that has been going on for two years and started with only a few individuals has attracted over 125 people that have come to help, whether it is staffing the table at Farmers’ Market, helping to sort supplies, creating flyers, transporting supplies, and many other tasks that need to get done. Currently, there are at least 50 people who are committed to regularly provide volunteer support and assistance. This effort has managed to create solidarity and unite people in the community on many levels.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst to put forth the increased effort in the Ward 6 community, this work began in Ward 6 long before the pandemic hit. Maurice Cook founded Serve Your City more than a decade ago as a way to continue and extend the mutual survival work that Black and Brown families in the District have been practicing for centuries.
We’re here to stay. The work we do is determined by the needs of Black and Brown communities and we are here to ensure that our efforts continue long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.