You + Us = Community
As we celebrate our 4th anniversary, we're reflecting upon all that we've accomplished, taking pride in the community that has grown up around us, and we're fired up for year 5.
The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.
—Coretta Scott King
Following the 2016 election, I looked for ways to become an activist. I joined local democratic clubs and progressive groups with the hopes of finding a home for my fear of what lay ahead. I volunteered for leadership positions and grunt work alike. In May 2017, I found Resistbot and joined a community of more than 4 million users (at that time). My love affair with Rosie and Scout began. In November of that same year, I became a volunteer who worked on submitting folks' letters to their local newspaper. Since then, I have worked on a wide range of projects for Resistbot and our community has grown to more than 9 million people who took up arms against Trump and who now support the new administration while holding their feet to the fire of accountability.
The Resistbot family is a community of mixed races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and sexualities. We are a rainbow of people who live in blue states, red states, and maybe even a few purple ones. We are Democrats, Republicans, and everything in between. In 2016, we stood before a precipice that on the one hand offered death by going along to get along, and on the other life, with a chance to defy the overlord by speaking out while standing up. We come from all walks of life, with varying capabilities and challenges, and a multitude of perspectives on what is most important. We have some values in common and there are those about which we disagree. We have families and friends who have been impacted by the game of politics and we have seen a nation struggle under a despotic ruler. We have shared pain and joy while lobbying our officials on women's rights, reproductive health and rights, health insurance, immigration, and gun reform to name but a few. We have legislators that share our values as well as those whose values we abhor and together we have written more than 26 million letters to them in all 50 states.
Part of being in a family is looking out for one another, providing support where we can, when we can. And, when the pandemic hit, we wanted to do all that we could to provide information and resources to the 9.1 million members of our community. To that end, we created the covid keyword and tracked every bit of information that we could find in an effort to give you as much useful information as possible. Currently, our database includes the status on state and school closures/reopenings, restrictions on gatherings and restaurants, resources for help paying the electric bill and your rent, the NAMI helpline for mental health support, the domestic violence hotline, and links to public assistance, SNAP benefits, the latest information on the vaccine and testing, and food banks in your area. For many, the capacity at our local hospital has been a barometer by which to gauge the pandemic. Using the keyword Hospital will let you know the ICU and bed availability at your local facility.
Many folks who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic no longer have health insurance. The potential for steep medical costs as a result of the virus can be crippling so health insurance is more important than ever before. Thanks to the ACA, we no longer need to rely on employers to obtain coverage. Some states have their own health insurance exchange while others do not. Use the keyword coverage and we will connect you with your state’s exchange or the national one which has extended its open enrollment period until May 15th.
For many of us, working from home sounds like a dream. And, in some respects it is; however, being stuck in the house day and night, day after day, can have its own pitfalls. The days and weeks begin to run together in a fog of endless worry and an emotional funk that is hard to shake. While we have always known that human interaction is vital to emotional health, the pandemic has shown just how important it really is. Not being able to see our loved ones, to hug them, to hold them, as regularly as we did before has had a huge impact on our emotional well-being. Across the country, Mutual Aid organizations have come to the rescue by offering a variety of services. For example, here in Florida, one of our mutual aid organizations has put a modern spin on the concept of the buddy system. It is called the Senior Buddy Program, run by Students Care, which connects trained volunteers (mostly college students) with vulnerable members of the community. The buddies communicate by phone, video conferencing, and or letter writing – whichever works best for that individual. This little bit of human contact can make all the difference in the world to someone who is having a bad day.
If you like a green market, then CSA is the keyword for you. We have made finding a community-supported agricultural location easier than ever. By visiting these locations we support our local economies, the community-based growers in our area, and vendors. And, we get fresh produce and products made by our neighbors. It is a win-win for all of us.
One of the resources that have been especially hard hit during this last year is blood banks. Donations are down all over the country, yet demand remains as high as ever. By texting the word blood, we will connect you with blood donation centers close to you. If you are someone who has recovered from COVID, the antibodies in your blood may help someone else who is facing the same struggle.
While Resistbot was created for civic engagement, the people behind the bot are just like you, just like me. We have struggled, as have our families and friends, during this last year. The challenges brought about by the pandemic have been beyond what many of us could have ever imagined. It has been hard for you. It has been hard for us too. And, we are learning to take the small pleasures where we can and one of those pleasures is in helping others. For Resistbot, that has meant mining as much data and information that we can about the virus and passing that information along to you and your family.
As Resistbot celebrates our 4th anniversary on March 8th, we have reflected upon all that we have accomplished in the last 4 years and we take pride in the community that has grown up around us. We are ever thankful for the support from within and without and look forward to growing our community.
It has been a wild ride Resistbotters, and the best is yet to come. Welcome to year 5!