As COVID-19 has swept across the globe, the African immigrant community in metro Denver has not been spared. As I write this, in late May, 25 members of the African Leadership Group have tested positive for the virus. Tragically, one has died.
But illness and death are not the only toll COVID-19 has taken on our community. The economic devastation is real, and has hit you, our people, hard. The disruption of schooling has also had a disproportionate impact on ALG members.
We have felt the need to respond in unprecedented ways to these multiple crises. We understand that there are limitations to the support some of you can pursue elsewhere, particularly those who have undocumented members in your households. And, culturally, it is very difficult for some to accept outside assistance, or even know how to ask for it. This creates an area of need that is invisible to the general public and off the radar of some of the human service organizations that aim to serve immigrant populations.
That is why ALG is compelled to provide more direct services than we normally would, like food distribution, giving laptops to families, and helping families navigate resources around paying their bills . We otherwise would not venture into these kinds of activities, but these are uniquely difficult times that call for extraordinary measures.
ALG is faced with new and unexpected challenges as we support you, our members, through this complicated situation. We are, as always, serving as a hub for reliable information, making referrals to other trusted resources, and spending our resources to support you in your areas of unmet need. We will continue to provide these additional services, and are in conversations with our funders, hoping they can help us bring additional resources to bear on these challenges.
We are meeting you at the point of your needs. This includes providing referrals and direct support to those of you experiencing food insecurity, those of you in need of digital devices to get online, and tutoring services for students. We have already had one case of a family in need of financial help with burial expenses for a COVID-19 death in our community.
We expect all of these needs to persist over the coming weeks, especially since our community is over-represented in the service industries that are hit hardest and in industries expected to lag behind other sectors in economic recovery.
Even as we intensify our efforts to help you, our members, through these crises, we must not lose sight of ongoing ALG goals. We are extremely concerned that—in light of the already hostile position of the current administration toward immigrants—that more unfair policies and legal actions against immigrants will intensify and further hurt our community.
We believe our ability to provide assistance to you, our members, during the current emergency will intensify your commitment to our larger mission and inspire you to participate (now and in the future) when events require collective advocacy. We are continuing our leadership development and advocacy training programs because we need civic engagement and representative leaders more than ever.
We invite and welcome your participation.