AMAN is a community-based grassroots network that formed in response to COVID-19 and has over 700 volunteers able to assist in providing mutual aid to the surrounding community. It’s neighbors helping neighbors. Neighbors get help. Neighbors give help.
Mutual aid is about solidarity, not charity. It recognizes that our own well-being, health and dignity is interconnected with the well-being, health and dignity of our community members. Mutual aid connects community members to provide material support and build trust based on common interest. The vision for AMAN is to leave this crisis better prepared, more closely connected (individually and collectively), and more committed to taking care of each other going forward.
AMAN is entirely volunteer run, and includes anyone who wants to participate. The network is led by a core team of ten, and has working groups consisting of highly engaged volunteers who oversee food delivery, elderly support, IT support, communications, immigrant needs, housing issues, and more.
We do our best to meet the needs of the community as they evolve. Addressing food insecurity through food delivery and referrals comprises a large part of our work, and the requests for groceries and prepared meals have grown tremendously. We also provide other basic needs for our neighbors such as health/cleaning supplies, diapers, PPE and more, arrange transport to medical appointments, conduct check in calls with our elderly neighbors, organize around critical issues, connect them to resources and partners that can assist them with unemployment, housing, and other issues they may be confronting.
Dispatchers receive requests for aid via our website form, google voice helpline, text, and email, and then deploy volunteers to fulfill the requests for aid. We have volunteers who can provide translation if needed.
We also partner with other organizations to source and implement larger scale food delivery, mobilize on wider efforts for social change, feed hospital workers in partnership with local restaurants, and share ideas and resources to meet the needs of our community.
There are lots of ways to get involved!
If you want to volunteer, go to https://www.astoriamutualaid.com/volunteer and complete the volunteer sign up form. You’ll see the different kinds of general opportunities you can sign up for.
If you’d like to donate funds, go to https://ioby.org/project/astoria-mutual-aid-network-fundIoby is AMAN’s fiscal sponsor, which means any donations are tax-deductible.
If you’d like to donate items like diapers, PPE, or other supplies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to partner on a project or collaborate in some way, please email astoriamutualaid.com.
Once you sign up to volunteer via our website, you will get a welcome email which lets you know how to join our Slack channel, our WhatsApp groups, and you’ll be signed up to get our newsletter that is created by our communications team.
Our dispatch system tries to match requests for aid to volunteers who can help, based on location and interests. For example, if a neighbor puts in a request for prescription pickup help, we look for volunteers who live near that neighbor first. So there’s a good chance that there may not have been any requests in your immediate neighborhood for neighbor to neighbor support.
However, we have multiple opportunities to volunteer besides the hyperlocal neighbor to neighbor matching. We have wide scale food delivery opportunities in partnership with The Connected Chef, food pantries that ask for volunteer help, cross-Queens requests, neighbors who need assistance with applying for government support and more. There are also ways to volunteer with communications, IT support, fundraising, and more. To take part in these other efforts, please browse the various Slack channels we have set up when you join.
First, we have some basic intake questions we ask each volunteer when they sign up so that they understand the safety and health protocols we follow for things like deliveries. We also have a set of community guidelines that were generated so that it’s clear that our aim is to build a network that is inclusive, respectful, harassment free, and working to put the needs of the community first.
We have an amazing team of dispatchers who we train, onboard, and meet with each week. As volunteers, we also realize that we may be limited in what we can provide and that we are not social workers. So when needed we look to refer our neighbors to people who have expertise or training to address specific needs or organizations and agencies that are equipped in those areas.