MAGIC VALLEY — When COVID-19 first hit, eight nonprofit organizations created the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance, a resource to help undocumented families get through the pandemic. They are now hoping to raise $1 million to continue to provide support for these families.
"It started with dropping off emergency food boxes to the families directly to the fields. They start working early in the morning, they get off late, and by the time they started going to the grocery stores, the shelves were empty," Irma Morin, CEO of Community Council of Idaho, said.
The alliance consists of eight organizations: American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, Community Council of Idaho, The Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, Immigrant Justice Idaho, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Poder of Idaho, United Farm Workers, and Vision 2C Resource Council. After coming together, they decided to create the Ayuda Para Nuestras Familias fund to support those families who did not qualify for government aid.
"That's to go to the farmworker community primarily. 70-9% depending on the region, are undocumented families working and did not receive any stimulus funds. COVID is negatively impacting them, and so we want to make sure we provide them with some relief fund," Morin said.
Recently the organization received a $50,000 grant from Justice for Migrant Women, an organization that aims to protect migrant women's rights, but they say they need $1 million to continue to provide support to these families.
"At the end of the day, this is not just going to be this year. This is something that we're going to have to provide help for in the near future, and that's why we're hoping that the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance will most likely stick around for a while, to provide the support that we can," Irene Ruiz, Bilingual Community Organizer of the Idaho Organization resource of Resource Councils, said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Community Council of Idaho noticed most farmworkers did not have personal protective equipment. They partnered with Poder of Idaho to start a campaign to get people to donate masks. The organizations were able to provide over 8,000 masks to farmworkers.
"That's how this all started. We found that most farmworkers don't have PPE. So we thought we really need to do something to start providing facemasks," Morin said.
And for Ruiz, helping families throughout this is something very personal to her.
"As a former farmworker myself, it's just a way of giving back to my community, giving back to people who are keeping food on our table are keeping our economy going. It's just a way to support people in the time of need," Ruiz said.
If you would like to donate to The Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance, you can Venmo @AyudaParaNuestrasFamilias or visit their Facebook page for more information.