The local Latinx community is uniquely vulnerable to the economic turmoil caused by the current COVID-19 crisis. About 70 percent of the Latinx population are renters, according to the Latino Health Council, and almost two out of every five work in the service industry in Dane County. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of Latinx are uninsured in Wisconsin. Even worse, most Latinx immigrants have been denied any of the COVID-19 federal stimulus money.
With that in mind, the New Leaders Council-Wisconsin is raising money in collaboration with the Latinx Consortium for Action. The LCA Emergency Relief Fund prioritizes financial needs facing the Latinx community during this time of crisis. The fund was officially launched on Friday, May 1 – International Workers Day – and will attempt to raise $20,000 through May 17.
“It’s always a good time to support international workers but especially during this time of crisis and during a time when a lot of undocumented folks have been left out of a lot of resources,” Yesenia Villalpando, one of the organizers of the fund, tells Madison365. “A lot of undocumented folks are not eligible for unemployment nor are they benefiting from the stimulus package money.
“So, right now we’re seeing that the community is filling those gaps from the lack of resources and that’s what the Latinx Consortium for Action is doing and we thought it would be a good time for NLC to step up and join those efforts,” she adds.
The LCA Emergency Relief Fund will provide flexible financial relief for our most vulnerable populations: undocumented Latinx workers and small immigrant-owned businesses. Villalpando is organizing this fundraiser with the help of New Leaders Council-Wisconsin in collaboration with the Latinx Consortium for Action (LCA) and is looking forward to being able to contribute her $20,000 fundraiser to the main LCA Relief Fund housed at Centro Hispano that is now well over $400,000.
“We are creating the new leaders that are going to be pushing forward to create a more progressive Wisconsin. Yesenia is part of this year’s class of emerging leaders and she was the one who thought of this idea to help out with an urgent need in the community,” Anna Kaminski, the Chapter Director of NLC Wisconsin, tells Madison365.
NLC Wisconsin runs training programs for young progressives. They are comprised of, and led by, a group of talented progressive activists in Madison and Milwaukee.
“I am so proud of Yesenia and this cohort of New Leaders Council-Wisconsin. They have really stepped up during this crisis and demonstrated leadership in a way that is value-based. It’s really beautiful,” Kaminski says. “True leadership is stepping up and taking action, even when times get tough – our 2020 Fellows in Madison are absolutely demonstrating leadership.”
Villalpando is a social worker in the Immigration Affairs Office of Dane County Human Services. She does a lot of work in the immigrant rights movement.
“On top of being a social worker, I also identify as an undocumented woman and so this, for me, is a passion of mine,” Villalpando says. “We’ve seen it throughout the years how a lot of the undocumented community supports one another and I think that bringing in other folks like the New Leaders Council allows there to be a space for allies to also join the movement and I think that’s what I’m looking forward to and that’s something I’m really excited about with this fundraiser.”
Members of the Latinx Consortium for Action in Dane County include Centro Hispano of Dane County, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, Latino Academy of Workforce Development, Latino Health Council, Latino Education Council, Latino Children and Families Council, Latino Professionals Association, Latino Support Network, Common Wealth Development, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, Voces de la Frontera – Madison, Unidos Against Domestic Violence, and Sunshine Place.
“I’ve been doing work with the LCA and I thought it would be a great idea to merge both of the incentives I’ve been working with – the NLC and the LCA,” Villalpando says. “I brought it up to my fellow cohort members and they all agreed to join this movement.”
So far, they’ve raised over $4,600 in just three days. The goal is to raise $20,000 in two weeks.
“The $20,000 goal is something, too, that they are being thoughtful about. The fellows have come up with their own fundraising plan to pull this off,” Kaminski says. “The fundraising plan will include a couple of different things and we’re definitely doing a social media blast and trying to get the word out, especially to new members of our community who will hopefully reach out to their family and friends.
“Even just a small-dollar donor helps. Every bit helps for people who are living paycheck to paycheck. We also know how urgent this need so that’s why we put an end date on (May 17) so that the funds can make it to the community in a timely manner,” she adds.
There are many worthy COVID-19 relief funds that people in Dane County can contribute to, but Villalpando notes that the Latinx community in Dane County has been especially marginalized.
“There is a lot of need in the community, and we recognize that,” she says. “For me, I have a very personal connection to this fund and I think that the undocumented community, in particular, does not have access to things like unemployment or the stimulus package and I believe it’s a different level of lack of resources and we want to make sure that these people and their families – who contribute to our community on a daily basis – are taken care of.”