Newsletter: The history of mutual aid



Illustration by Ariel Aberg-Riger from A Visual History of Mutual Aid

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Did you know that one of the first Black mutual aid societies in the country was created during a pandemic? Black Americans built flourishing mutual aid networks in the 1800s and throughout the 20th century, and this Black History Month we’re thinking about the deep and evolving history of mutual aid.

In addition to the many mutual aid efforts built by Black organizers, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in San Francisco, Sociedades Mutualistas in the Southwest, Jewish Landsmanshaftn, and the Puerto Rican Young Lords in NYC are other groups whose existence underscores the fact that we keep us safe, and that our liberation is connected.

Below are some of the ways we’re carrying on these traditions now. Read on to give support, get support, and be part of the effort.

Stay healthy and stay safe. In solidarity,

Ward 4 Mutual Aid

Saturday mornings: Grocery distribution


Every week volunteers procure, pack, deliver, and distribute more than 300 care packages for Ward 4 neighbors. Our grocery distribution is the heart of our work and it is a collaborative effort. Orientation sessions for new volunteers are on the third Wednesday of the month – sign up to join our next session:

Saturday afternoons: Unhoused support


Every Saturday from 2:00-5:00pm we distribute supplies for unhoused neighbors at Georgia Ave. and Taylor St. NW. Last Saturday’s distribution cleaned us out, and the ongoing cold weather poses a serious threat to our neighbor’s lives.

Help us stock up: Fulfill some of the items on our supply wish list to keep everyone in our community safe during the coldest winter months. You can also donate directly to our unhoused support work, or best of all sign up for a volunteer shift — all kinds of roles are needed:


If you have lost income due to COVID but are excluded from unemployment or the federal stimulus, the new DC CARES fund is distributing $1,000 payments just for you. Sign up and learn more: Need assistance applying? Our allies at Many Languages, One Voice (MLOV) are available to help. Call 202-332-1264 and ask for Jairo.

Get vaccination appointment alerts

COVID-19 vaccinations are now available for DC residents over 65, teachers and day care workers, and anyone who works in a health care setting. In addition, people staying at the city’s congregate shelters will also have the opportunity to be vaccinated starting next week.

Appointment reservations open each week but are usually booked quickly.
Sign up to get email or text message alerts when new appointments become available.

Redistribute your stimulus

As of today we’ve supported 98 neighbors with stimulus check redistribution. That’s already incredible.

If you received a stimulus check and would like to contribute it to a neighbor who needs it, fill out this form and our stimulus team will connect with you:

Monthly donors are our valentine

Folks who have stepped up to become monthly donors in the last two weeks: WE LOVE YOU! We’re now 87% of the way to covering our ongoing costs each month. Help us cover that last 13% by becoming a monthly donor — even at just $5/month — right here:

Ward 4 Helpline:
Text or call (202) 681-3098. Se habla Español.

Groceries and supplies are available for anyone on Wednesdays from 5-7pm and Saturdays from 12-2pm at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church, 744 Jefferson St. NW. No appointment or signup needed.