CEC Launches Program for Frontline Community Needs During COVID-19

CEC Launches Program for Frontline Community Needs During COVID-19 title=
CEC Launches Program for Frontline Community Needs During COVID-19
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Source: Community Environmental Council

Community Environmental Council announces Community Ambassador Resilience and Equity Response (CARER), a new pilot program aimed to foster community resilience and support climate justice efforts by responding to immediate needs of frontline communities during the pandemic.

CARER’s primary goal is to provide critical outreach to frontline community members, sharing resources and information related to COVID-19 public health, food access, and tenant rights. One way they are doing this is by conducting direct bilingual outreach to frontline community members and convening online or phone-based house meetings.

CARER is run by CEC’s Community Ambassadors, Alhan Diaz-Correa and Ana Rico, who are each fluent in Spanish and English, with roots in the frontline communities they serve in north and south Santa Barbara County. The program was made possible by an Emerging Needs Grant from the Fund for Santa Barbara.

Diaz-Correa noted, “CARER gives us an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of frontline communities – including the additional emotional toll of the work they do during COVID.” Speaking to the ways CARER drives new opportunities to build deeper relationships with community-based organizations, Diaz-Correa continued, “Through engagement, resource sharing, and action, CEC hopes to deposit into the community bank of trust, an essential act needed before withdrawing from the trust, time, and expertise of individuals in our community.”

CARER is also working to:

  • Identify and track how COVID-19 is affecting on-the-ground needs related to food access, housing security, tenant rights, transportation, and other critical services across Santa Barbara County.
  • Document grassroots community responses to close gaps in these areas.
  • Share information across community-based organizations, government agencies, and networks (including the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and Santa Barbara County Food Action Network) to address critical service gaps, meet community needs, and advance more effective legislative and policy interventions in response to COVID-19.

For individuals unable to access other forms of financial assistance for basic, immediate needs – such as groceries, face masks, transit, food delivery, and childcare – the program also had a small pool to provide small amounts of direct cash assistance, which they distributed over the past month.

Community members and community-based organizations can refer individuals who would benefit from personal outreach or who have an emerging direct need that may not qualify for other types of assistance by contacting Alhan Diaz-Correa at adiazcorrea@cecmail.org. All individuals are also welcome to join the CEC Community Bulletin Board Facebook group, a space for Spanish-speakers to connect, share resources, and discuss ideas about community resilience. (facebook.com/groups/BoletinComunitariodeCEC).

“Our region’s frontline communities – people of color, low-income households, immigrants, rural communities, LGBTQ+, elders, and youth – are the most affected by the dual impacts of climate change and COVID-19,” said CEC’s CEO Sigrid Wright. “This moment in time requires immediate and resolute action to address the intersecting issues of climate justice, community resilience, and social justice.”

CARER stemmed from CEC’s public outreach to support Connected 2050/Conectados 2050, a regional planning effort the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) is leading to gather diverse community insight into long-range transportation and housing goals that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In facilitating listening sessions and gathering survey input for Connected 2050, CEC’s Community Ambassadors recognized a critical need to support frontline communities beyond these issues.

CEC is currently seeking additional funding to sustain the CARER program and support the Community Ambassadors’ critical work with frontline communities during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. To discuss partnership or funding opportunities, contact Alhan Diaz-Correa at adiazcorrea@cecmail.org.

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