Rev. Tamara Torres McGovern (left), Wendy Blackwell-Moore (right)
As the threat of coronavirus disrupts life all over, two moms from Portland, Maine are trying to help those in need through an online movement to spur generosity and mutual aid during this time of collective crisis.
#PledgeMyStimulus was founded by Wendy Blackwell-Moore and Rev. Tamara Torres McGovern. Both women were individually looking for ways to engage their community and they both reached out the same day to Maine State Representative Victoria Morales asking about what could be done to help those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both callers had the same idea – they wanted leverage the federal stimulus checks to create collective impact to help their local communities. Rep Morales convened a Zoom call where they met for the first time. She also invited a few other local leaders, all women, to help brainstorm. One of them, a local philanthropist, offered to pay for a local designer to create a website so that they could amplify and spread the message. And the online movement was born. It encourages people to donate part or all of their stimulus checks to a nonprofit, local business or artist in order to help bolster their local economies.
“During this time the definition of ‘being a good neighbor’ is changing,” Torres McGovern told Momtastic. “To care for others we must give them space, cross the street, or protect them by backing away. The handshake, arm around the shoulder, or friendly hugs that we have shared in the past are no longer safe. It is hard to show our compassion for one another when we are physically distancing. And yet, there are still so many ways to show up for your neighbors in need. Sharing your stimulus check (if your family’s finances haven’t been significantly impacted) is one way to support those who are struggling. It is an opportunity to come together even while we are staying apart.”
Rev. Tamara Torres McGovern (right), her spouse, Piper Dumont (left), and their daughter (Tovi Torres)
An added benefit to launching the website? The positive impact their campaign has had on their kids. “This project has created an opportunity for us to have important conversations about the ways that we can care for one another even at a distance,” said Torres McGovern. “We have talked about people who are experiencing food insecurity, loss of jobs, who are working in healthcare to keep us safe, who are homeless and don’t have a safe place to go,” she added.
Blackwell-Moore’s kids are older and were an integral part of dinner-time conversations regarding where their family would donate their check. They talked about who, in the community, would be most impacted, and which organizations were best equipped to meet those needs. Their family not only donated to the Maine Access Immigrant Network, but also made a direct pledge to a community member who had lost work. In addition, they decided to use part of their check toward a fun family project. Using materials purchased from a local hardware store (keeping the money in the local economy), they have been building a chicken coop and have ordered their first birds. “The chicken coop has the added benefit of also being a great homeschooling project,” she boasted.
Wendy Blackwell Moore (left), her wife, Liz Blackwell-Moore (right), and their children Cece (age 14) and Jude (age 10)
Since the campaign’s website launched on April 6, more than 157 people have pledged some (or all) of their stimulus checks to approximately 100 organizations in 25 states. So far, more than $130,000 has been pledged to nonprofit organizations, artists, local businesses, crafts and tradespeople.
What’s next for #PledgeMyStimulus? While the co-founders don’t have plans to partner with other organizations directly, they have listed all of the places that people have said they are donating to. They have included links to their websites to raise visibility, in the hopes that others might be inspired to give to those non-profits.
“We want the term ‘stimulus’ to evolve over time – to stimulate is to create energy and spur action – that could mean buying locally, helping a neighbor, calling a loved one, sewing masks, supporting the front-line healthcare workers. We want to stimulate solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Blackwell-Moore.
Join Evolve Media’s #WeSayThanks campaign to show support to essential workers and thank them for their selfless acts of kindness and heroism. To learn how to get involved, please visit https://www.