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Mutual aid comes to Four Corners

Network aims to meet community needs, inspire neighborly help
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, mutual aid networks have organized throughout the country, including in the Four Corners.

The Four Corners Mutual Aid Network, a local group that sprang up this spring in the Four Corners, is spearheading efforts to help individuals and communities by handling fundraising and fund distribution during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not an organization,” Annie Seder with 4CMAN told The Journal. “The people who are being helped aren’t ‘clients.’ The whole idea is that everyone has things they need and things they have to give, in various ways.”

Mutual Aid efforts popped up around the country as the pandemic caused economic distress. At the crux of “mutual aid” is the idea of community members and neighbors stepping up to meet one another’s needs.

“The vision of mutual aid is transforming our social system so that people are meeting other people’s needs in this world, as a part of what it means to be in community with each other,” Seder said.

The network includes individuals and local organizations that work with or endorse 4CMAN, such as Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center, Mancos FoodShare, Good Samaritan Food Pantry, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity.

The network’s central fund is used to allocate money to people and areas of greatest needs. But the group also helps to facilitate direct donations by setting up a platform where people can list needs such as housing or food and people can donate directly to them.

“Having people come through to get food and supplies that you’ve known for years since you were little is really humbling to me,” Trennie Collins, of 4CMAN and Ignacio Mutual Aid, said in a news release. “We may not know what they go through, and for us to come in and be able to help is everything.”

The group serves Montezuma, Dolores and La Plata counties, and Towaoc, Ignacio, Shiprock, Gallup, Pueblo Pintado, Nazlini and Black Mesa, Arizona.

Recipients include immigrants and LGBTQ2S+ residents, Seder said.

“As immigrants, we can’t apply for any federal aid, we won’t get any of the stimulus checks, and there’s not a lot of support for undocumented families,” said an anonymous recipient in the 4CMAN statement. “I know we’re not from here, but it’s the only place I’ve ever known, and due to this virus it feels like we’re not really getting support.”

Since April 1, the network has met over $34,000 in needs, with about 84 families receiving financial support and more than 300 receiving food and supplies. Over 125 people have helped out with time or money, according to Seder.