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About Coronacare Hawaiʻi

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network

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About Coronacare Hawaiʻi

Coronacare Hawaiʻi is a mutual aid network dedicated to serving the people affected by the coronavirus crisis and abandoned by the ineffective local and federal governments. We don’t just want to help people meet their material needs through our work, we want to strengthen our communities so we can come out of this crisis better organized and ready to fight for OUR needs, not the needs of investors and big businesses.

We would like to clearly state our stances on some important issues, before explaining how we are unique among many groups working in our communities today.

We are anti-capitalist. We believe capitalism is the primary cause of inequality and human suffering today and is exacerbating the COVID-19 crisis.

We are pro-Hawaiian sovereignty, and understand that Hawaiʻi is an illegally-occupied nation.

We believe that capitalism, racism, and patriarchy are intimately tied to the US occupation of Hawaiʻi.

We believe that capitalism, racism, and patriarchy are detrimental to the health and safety of both humankind and the ʻāina.

What makes Coronacare Hawaiʻi unique? To explain this, we should first define mutual aid and identify how it is different from charity. While this may seem like an arbitrary distinction for some, clarifying the key differences will help illustrate not just what we do and why we do it, but how we do it and why that’s important.

In a few words, we see charity as a top-down, one-way transfer of resources with the goal of bettering the giver’s position without creating long-term relief for the recipient. Charity serves to maintain the status quo by offsetting the uglier realities of capitalism, and takes the heat off the ones benefiting from the system. Charity feeds the ego of the givers, for whom giving money is no real sacrifice, without challenging the social and economic systems that create need among the many and wealth among the very few.

Mutual aid is a horizontal exchange of resources among equals, not with the intention of benefiting any one person in the form of tax breaks or the chance to say they made a difference. Many of us in Coronacare Hawaiʻi share the same challenges as those we serve with our activities.

None of us receive any pay for our work. 100% of funds we raise and receive from generous community contributions go toward serving the community.

Coronacare is also a registered 501c3 nonprofit. For most organizations, this would only be worth a brief mention. However, given the stances outlined above, we want to clarify a few points regarding our nonprofit status and our relationship to the government.

Faced with the degree of suffering wrought by the coronavirus crisis and the local and federal governments’ non-response, our primary goal is helping the people hit the hardest meet their needs. In pursuit of that goal, we strategically cooperate with the government of the occupying forces in Hawaiʻi by operating as an officially-sanctioned entity, and accept funds such as those provided by the CARES act in cooperation with other nonprofits. However, this aid does not change the fact that this government is the source of such need in the first place.

The meager aid dispensed by the government largely serves to obscure its own negligence and oppression. We accept any aid in service of the people who need it, but refuse to ignore this fact.

If we’re critical of nonprofits, why do we operate as one?

There are concrete benefits to our position as a government-sanctioned nonprofit. While we are registered as a nonprofit, we need not and do not operate as a typical nonprofit. Most nonprofits receive their funds from the state or rich capitalists, and have to fight each other for crumbs. That usually means sacrificing beliefs and ideals to appeal to people who have all the power and no interest in giving their money to anyone threatening their bottom line. Even when a nonprofit does receive a significant sum from the government, as our partner Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies did through the CARES act, that money can dry up on the government’s whim, and the nonprofit’s work along with it. This creates an atmosphere of constant competition and a businesslike mentality that does not belong in the work we are doing. We are not a business, and we don’t operate like one.

We operate as a group of equals, and we use the benefit of our legitimacy to extend the reach of our work and to try and give a mouthpiece to those normally excluded from the conversation.

At the end of the day, while there are things we don’t like about the nonprofit system, we feel we can do more good as a nonprofit than otherwise. We can always back out and operate without nonprofit status, but as long as we operate in a way that matches our beliefs, we are happy to accept the benefits that come with being a 501c3.

Today, Coronacare Hawaiʻi and its network of volunteers are doing our best to serve our neighbors in need, in the hope of building communities that can work together and help each other without hidden clauses or fine print. By focusing on the needs of our community and not the desire to line our wallets, we always strive to serve those normally excluded by nonprofits, without preconditions, and without hobnobbing with wealthy donors hoping to put another self-serving notch in their belt. We are in this together, and we are in this for each other.