One of the encouraging things to come out of COVID is the rise of mutual aid networks around the country, including one in Beacon that started right as the pandemic hit the Hudson Valley.
Essentially mutual aid groups are matchmakers, connecting those with needs to those with something to offer. Beacon’s group was spearheaded by longtime BEAHIVE member Dara Silverman, who recruited a handful of others to help organize (including other BEAHIVE members). Dara was inspired and informed by Mutual Aid Medford and Somerville (MAMAS). (The River Newsroom has a great overview of the movement in the Hudson Valley.)
Like BEAHIVE, Mutual Aid Beacon (MAB) is about connections. As they say, “We are not a community divided between givers and takers; we are neighbors helping/feeding/calling/driving/encouraging/etc. neighbors.”
But MAB has been quickly evolving beyond basic connections. Since its spring launch, the group’s 1,200-plus volunteers have:
- Distributed 7,200+ bags of groceries to area families.
- Spent 1,000+ hours on the phone with home-bound seniors.
- Delivered 100+ prescriptions from pharmacies.
- Offered 7 sessions of free after-school programming to children.
- Enabled a free, public Wi-Fi spot at Memorial Park (with two more in the works).
And working with allied groups, MAB lobbied the City of Beacon to incorporate more community-focused initiatives in its 2021 budget, including:
- $25,000 for food resources
- $50,000 for a survey of community needs for recreation and a new community center
- $30,000 for a study on the feasibility of municipal broadband
- $14,000 for trash and recycling pickup at the parks
- $25,000 for park bathrooms to be opened and maintained
- $10,000 for a taxi voucher program (key for helping seniors get to medical appointments)
- $5,000 for a participatory budgeting project to allocate funding based on the community’s input
MAB is always looking for volunteers — and money is always welcome. Check the website for various ways to get involved or donate.