Since mid-March, APANO has shifted and re-aligned our work to address and advocate for community needs during these challenging times. We have tried to respond to the most pressing needs we were hearing from our community, while also leaning into our core area of advocacy work to shape our collective response to COVID-19. Here are some updates on our efforts so far and what’s next.
COVID Relief Fund & Mutual Aid
In light of widespread challenges people are facing, we have seen our community come together in incredible ways. Through our COVID Relief Fund for Impacted Workers, community members and partners have donated over $40,000 (and counting) to support API workers who have been laid off or faced reduced hours and are struggling. We are working with community leaders and partners to distribute these funds to community members, and have already distributed $16,000, primarily to workers and families in the Jade District. We are working with partners in Washington County and elsewhere to expand our distribution.
If you’d like to contribute to this fund, please do so at bit.ly/supportapiworkers.
Beyond giving, many of you also signed up to volunteer to deliver meals or groceries or help out in other ways. After assessing community needs, we determined that food assistance is a pressing issue where additional volunteers can make a real difference and encourage those interested to connect with the following efforts:
Multnomah County is seeking volunteers to help provide emergency shelter to people experiencing homelessness. Sign up to volunteer here.
Small Business Relief
The Jade District and Old Town Chinatown Response Fund was established by the Mayor and Prosper Portland, with APANO support, on March 17, 2020, and they identified these business districts for the fund as those with many Asian- and immigrant- owned businesses that have been financially impacted since news of the coronavirus first emerged in January. The city contributed $140,000 and the Jade District Steering Committee contributed another $50,000 for a total of $190,000 to distribute. APANO was asked to administer the fund as part of its ongoing work over the past decade in the Jade District so that businesses could receive assistance as quickly as possible.
While the resources of this fund was a drop in the bucket compared to the great needs small businesses are facing at this trying time, the hope was that these funds would help API- and immigrant- owned small businesses, especially those that have been community pillars and integral to the fabric of their neighborhoods, pull through until other supports became available. A volunteer group of community stakeholders who make up the Jade District Steering Committee as well as two representatives from Old Town Chinatown made final grant decisions. 32 businesses were ultimately funded. You can read more about this process in our recent blog post.
As other small business supports have become available, APANO’s business navigators are continuing to help business owners apply for relief. Please reach out to us at [email protected] for assistance. We are also able to provide assistance in Chinese, Vietnamese, or Spanish.
Racial Equity Advocacy & Responding to Hate
APANO continues to work with our coalition partners to advocate for our communities and specific needs and supports that are necessary in local, state, and federal responses. Part of this effort has been to collect resources about public health and news around eviction moratorium, unemployment insurance, public charge, and other policies, as well as share multilingual resources.
In this time, we have also seen an unsurprising but unfortunate uptick in xenophobia and discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans, including here in Oregon. Using language that links a global pandemic that impacts us all to a single country and race continues a long tradition of scapegoating communities of color in times of crisis. Portland United Against Hate (PUAH) has put out a Resilience to Hate Resource Guide, written by our Community Engagement Manager, Jairaj Singh, and we encourage people to report incidents to PUAH at their website.
Cultural Work & Narrative Shift
As our executive director, Chi Nguyen, recently wrote in an op-ed with Susannah Morgan of the Oregon Food Bank, every decision we make today shapes the world we want to live in tomorrow. Now is a crucial time to shape the narratives of who we want to be in this moment and in the future as we emerge from this period.
APANO’s Cultural Work program has been developing messages and working with Arts & Media Project (AMP) members to create artwork that speaks to this moment, including “We Must Protect Each Other” by local artist Vincent Kukua, featured above.
Stories are also powerful in this moment. The Cultural Work team is collecting stories for Courage During COVID, a series of interviews with Asians and Pacific Islanders impacted by COVID-19 and/or engaging in critical COVID response work. Do you know anyone whose stories and experiences should be highlighted, or whose efforts can inform and inspire others? If you would like to share your story in these times or want to recommend someone who should be spotlighted, please reach out to Candace Kita, Cultural Strategy Director, at [email protected].
While we have had to cancel our in-person events for the time being, we are beginning a series of virtual events to continue to connect as a community and share support and knowledge. The kickoff of our Resiliency Series will be a virtual Healing Space, hosted by Hun Taing, co-founder of Training 4 Transformation (T4T). There will be guided exercises, art, journaling and other grounding techniques to help navigate these challenging times.
COVID-19 Healing Space
Sunday, April 19, 2020 from 1-2pm
This session is open to everyone. Please RSVP here.
Monday, April 20, 2020 from 5:30-6:30pm — BIPOC ONLY
This session is dedicated to those who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color only. Please RSVP here.
We have also been inspired by the grassroots actions of community members launching their own efforts to provide support and aid during COVID-19. Locally, a group of Chinese parents raised money to donate 22,000 face masks for frontline workers. Their contribution will help protect health care workers, Trimet workers, and others who put their own health at risk to take care of others. We applaud this community effort and appreciate our Transportation Coordinator, Wanna Lei, in volunteering her time to support this initiative. If you want to support this local group, you may donate directly to them by paypaling them at [email protected]