Dallas-Fort Worth Mutual Aid Collectives Sprung Into Life-Saving Action This Week

This week has been staggering for countless Texans and the usual nonprofits have been hampered by the weather emergency. Food banks have postponed distributions as well Shelters suffered significant structural damage. However, mutual aid groups and local activists did not hesitate to do what they always do in their communities: find the people most at risk and get help for them immediately.

Before the snowstorms that hit Texas this week, Vanessa Wilmore was busy requesting extra tents and hand warmers for unhoused people in Dallas. “We didn’t know how bad the storm would be and that the power would fail,” says the 24-year-old main organizer. Wilmore started her aid group Feed the people of Dallas Mutual Aid in June and is now helping to find hotel rooms for residents who lack shelter.

“My days were just cooking food and bringing people to hotels and organizing drivers to pick up donations and food,” says Wilmore. “We are working to bring more hotel rooms, groceries to hotels, and large distributions with other organizations to collect groceries, clothing and supplies.” Feed the People opened a support form to identify needs – housing, hot meals, sanitation, and financial aid. From Thursday evening, 300 inquiries were collected and counted.

Wilmore and her mutual aid colleagues do not call this solidarity work charity work. “Charity comes from a power structure, but solidarity or mutual aid is about helping the community – we are all interconnected,” she says. “And when I have the resources, I’ll share them. It’s a mindset and an intention. ”

The practice of reciprocity underpins the work of many of these grassroots groups.

“Let’s help the people. Let’s feed the people, ”Wilmore calls out.

Susana Edith, founder of Lucha Dallas, shares the same feeling. In anticipation of the storm, Edith and her activist collective also shuffled people into hotels or took them to the convention center to stay warm and protected. “When the hotels were full, we just started collecting supplies to help people survive the night,” says Edith. They needed tents, hand warmers, socks, blankets, sleeping bags and jackets.

“Let’s help the people. Let’s feed the people. ”

Vanessa Wilmore, feed the people of Dallas

As the region saw the relentless freeze this week, Edith and other Lucha volunteers checked people in downtown and East Dallas two to three times a day. “A lot of people didn’t have shoes and the temperature was dropping rapidly.” They coordinated with other local aid groups to ensure that needs were met everywhere.

“This year we focused on building connections with unhodged people because this is a group that is always forgotten and often marginalized black women, black men, Latinx people,” says Edith. “We don’t check in with them [only] if only it’s bad. We try to connect, build a community with these people, and build a long-term relationship. ”

After all, collective care is a long-term commitment. Edith started Lucha Dallas around 2012. The more groups are formed, the more cross-organizational collaboration can take place.

Where to donate

If you’d like to help with your paperback, here’s how.

Funky Town Fridge
Venmo: @FunkyTownFridge
CashApp: $ FunkyTown Fridge

DFW Mutual Aid
Venmo: @DFWMutualAid
Cash app: $ dfwmutualaid

Not my son
Venmo: @NotMySonDallas
CashApp: $ NotMySonDallas

Feed the people Dallas
CashApp: $ feedthepeopledtx

Fight against Dallas
Venmo: @luchadallas
Flores Bakehaus pop-up and fundraiser for Lucha Dallas at Peaberry Coffee, Sat Feb 20th.

Coalition of the United Peoples
Venmo: People’s Coalition
CashApp: $ PeoplesCoalition

Here is a list of DFW and Texas-wide mutual networks.

Founded in 2014 by Danae Gutierrez, the Harvest Project Food Rescue has distributed over a million product boxes to those suffering from COVID-19 induced loss of income. This week, Harvest Project Food Rescue, together with Oak Cliff Veggie Project, set up an emergency heating tent with an industrial heat blower. They shared donated clothing and supplies and separated salvaged products into boxes for their weekly drive-through pantry at Warren United Methodist Church.

Mutual aid networks in Dallas-Fort Worth have been the foundation on the ground since last year when the pandemic throttled the area’s most vulnerable communities. Long before those winter storms set in, organizers stocked up on public fridges, halted evictions during an economic recession, assisted unhodged people in the area, and fed people.

Writer Steven Monacelli wrote a piece for Eater Dallas this week, which focused on Camp Rhonda, a housingless camp in south Dallas. There, groups moved the residents from the freezing season to hotels. And last year, Eater editor Amy McCarthy watched the growth of DFW Community Fridges.

The consistent effort and energy of several collectives, many of which are led by Black or BIPOC organizers, has enabled them to meet the great needs caused by these recent snowstorms. However, this need is compounded by the months-long effects of COVID-19. The often neglected groups – the out-of-home, families in areas with fewer resources such as grocery stores and medical assistance, constantly underserved communities – have long suffered from a lack of leadership support.

The city’s lack of response, says Edith, “forced people to wake up and see the conditions in our city.”

The collective care will continue beyond this week, as was the continuous effort long before this week.

“That’s not new. Black, brown and indigenous communities have always done this, but right now it’s more important than ever, ”says Wilmore. “The government failed – and we can see that.”

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