Thinking of our staff, volunteers and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Johana Vicente

Our community is no stranger to tough times, and I’m constantly reminded of how resilient we have been throughout our movements. During the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak, we must continue to build a strong sense of community and show empathy and solidarity to those who are most impacted because of racial and economic injustice. 

As you know, Chispa staff, volunteers and supporters have been working tirelessly for clean air, clean water, and a safe climate for our communities. In light of the evolving challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, we are taking precautionary steps now to adapt to a changing environment. The health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and communities remain a top priority. We all have a role to play in trying to lessen the impacts of the pandemic.

Last week we closed our offices and set up all staff to work remotely. We have canceled all travel for the time being and are turning in-person events into virtual gatherings. We are encouraging our staff and communities to practice social distancing, because we know that the actions we take today will help keep people safe and healthy now and in the weeks and months to come.

At the national level, we will continue our work to encourage families to participate in  the 2020 Census from home. This is a critical tool to bring additional funding for schools, social services, and other important programs to our community. Census instructions are being mailed out as we speak, but you can complete the census online right now by going to 2020census.gov or calling 844-330-2020 if you need assistance. 

Below are some updates of how our Chispa teams are shifting their work, as well as local resources and guidelines in the states where we have Chispa teams. 

Chispa Nevada: The team  is coming together in order to help everyone stay safe, support one another, and share resources while they transition to working from home. As of last week, they’ve cancelled all in-person meetings and are working to set up community meetings and gatherings on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms. They are also encouraging their members, staff and volunteers to fill out the Census from home! Take a look at some resources: Nevada Health Response, community Resource

Chispa Arizona: The team has paused site-based voter registration efforts for now and are working to transition to voter education on digital platforms. The organizing team has also shifted to digital organizing and are working to better leverage tools like Facebook Messenger, Facebook Live, and more as they’ve canceled in-person community events and gatherings. Chispa Arizona will also continue to educate and engage voters for the Salt River Project election on digital platforms. Take at look at some resources: financial assistance for utilities, Food banks, domestic violence hotline, community resource.

Chispa Maryland:The team hopes all members of the Chispa family, Promotores, volunteers, leaders and all community members and their loved ones are healthy and safe in this uncertain time. The team has fully transitioned to remote work as of last week and are continuing to find different ways to support the volunteers and community as they pivot organizing to the digital space. The Maryland legislative session wrapped up this week to ensure that the health and safety of the public is not compromised. Take a look at some resources: general, student meal sites: PG County, Montgomery County, Washington DC.

Protegete (Colorado): Last week, Protegete instituted a mandatory work from home policy until further notice to ensure the safety of their staff and volunteers. Organizers also canceled all upcoming in person events and will be scheduled to take place online. They’re working around the clock to  provide resources on how to do remote organizing so the team is set up for success as much as possible during these uncertain times. Take a look at some resources: food bank, support services. 

We’ll get through these difficult times together. If you live in the states as listed above, please reach out to your local Chispa chapter via Facebook and Twitter to learn more about how we continue the fight for a healthy and sustainable planet in the weeks to come. 

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