WHO WE ARE
COVID-19 is creating heightened needs across Berkeley, as well as a groundswell of neighbors who want to help. Berkeley Mutual Aid matches lower-risk volunteers with the most pressing needs. This includes pairing lower-risk neighbors with higher-risk neighbors who need essential supplies (e.g., food, toiletries, and prescriptions), help navigating social services, or connecting to overcome social isolation.
Berkeley Mutual Aid is an evolving effort developed by volunteers in the community to get neighborly support to where it is needed most. As this crisis evolves, our project will continue to respond and shift priorities as needed. Right now, we are focusing on helping people at higher risk from COVID-19 to help flatten the curve, and helping people who are being especially heavily impacted by COVID-19.
Berkeley Mutual Aid is part of BDPNN, the Berkeley Disaster Prep Neighborhood Network, which is a 501(c)3 all-volunteer nonprofit.
HOW IT WORKS
Who qualifies for help?
We are an evolving effort developed by volunteers in the community to get neighborly support to where it is needed most. As this crisis evolves, our project will continue to respond and shift priorities as needed. Right now, we are focusing on two priorities:
Helping people at higher risk from COVID-19, as defined by the City of Berkeley or the CDC or any other health authority, so that they can stay home and safe. This includes folks over 60 years old, anyone with an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk, and families with pregnant women and newborns.
Helping people who are being especially heavily impacted by COVID-19. This includes folks who are not currently able to afford groceries until they can access CalFresh or other food assistance.
What kind of help can I get?
At our core, we are a matchmaking service, connecting people in need to volunteers who have offered to help. We do not provide any direct services, but rather, we attempt to match folks with neighbors who are nearby and a good match to their needs. These volunteers become "buddies" who provide assistance in an ongoing way during this crisis. This helps ensure people in need have a neighbor they can turn to for help throughout the crisis, and as their needs change. And helps matched buddies—both volunteers and those in need—build community together.
We have found that the neighbors in the network can best help with three types of need:
Help running errands out of the house (picking up groceries, prescriptions etc.)
Checking-in by phone to provide some social connection and reduce feelings of isolation
Help identifying and navigating resources to meet their basic needs (SNAP, low-cost food resources, unemployment insurance, etc.)
Providing stop-gap funding to cover a grocery store run in emergencies when someone has completely run out of food and has no funds for groceries
We are also compiling resources for general use, which can be found on our website here.
Some needs that we cannot help with at this time are:
Our volunteers do not enter people's homes and cannot provide services within the home
We have a small monetary fund that we have used to provide stop-gap funding to cover a grocery store run in emergencies when someone has completely run out of food and has no funds for groceries; this isn't intended for longer-term or amounts over $50
We are not distributing supplies such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc.
We are all volunteer members of the community; we are not affiliated with any government and we are not medical professionals. We can't provide any medical care or advice
Can people without internet access get help?
Yes. People without internet access can call our Google Voice number and leave a message. We aim to call back within 1-2 days. The number is (510) 519-6770. We ask anyone with internet access to please use the forms on our website, or contact us by email for general inquiries.
Can you help non-English speakers?
We are currently set up to help Spanish-language speakers. If you can offer help in other languages, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!