Coronacare Hawaiʻi emerged out of conversations between former DSA Honolulu members recognizing that the state would fail in very specific ways and there would be a need for an organization which could address needs that fell outside the narrow, means-tested auspices of the liberal welfare state and the NGO/Non-profit industrial complex. We recognized that many of our neighbors were going to want to help in some way, and it would be beneficial to develop and organize these people around a shared understanding of the root causes of the problems affecting us all: capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy and white supremacy. Coronacare Hawaiʻi was officially incorporated as a 501c3 on Mar 30, 2020.
Coronacareʻs earliest work focused on organizing the creation, collection and distribution of hand-made masks in support of the Seamsters Union. Another of our first projects was “Personal Shopping,” which consisted of a form on our website where immunocompromised, financially struggling and kūpuna could send us a shopping list and we’d send a volunteer to purchase and deliver their items. During this time, we kept a running list of the most commonly requested items, which would later use to inform the contents of our Coronacare Package program.
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Delivery Program
In April 2020, we were put in touch with Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, a local nonprofit with a feminist perspective, who were trying to deliver meals to new mothers in a COVID-safe way. HMHB was able to secure a small fraction of the CARES Act funding which the settler state managed to allocate to human needs and not go carts for cops.
Coronacare organizers created and maintained a 100% remote volunteer driving training program and delivery management system to support this work, which served hundreds of young moms across Oahu. The program operated from April through December 2020, with more than 200 individual volunteer drivers making deliveries to hundreds of vulnerable moms across the island. At its peak, more than 30 volunteer drivers delivered meals to 270 families every Saturday.
Black Lives Matter and Abolition
Following the lynchings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Coronacare worked with local black and indigenous activists including veterans of the Standing Rock and Mauna Kea struggles to provide logistical support for several actions and demonstrations in support of the Movement for Black Lives. Volunteers were mobilized to run “Coronacaid stations” alongside march routes, and qualified individuals served as safety marshals and medics for actions, most notably the more than 10,000 person-strong BLM march on June 6. In the months following, members of Coronacare worked with the Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective, assisting in the organization of their Puʻuhonua Penpal Program, and joining our mutual allies at the Hawaiʻi Community Bail Fund to bail out incarcerated kanaka in celebration of Lā Kū’oko’a and draw attention to the repressive and racist nature of the American carceral system, which at the time was endangering the lives of countless incarcerated and pre-trial community members.
As 2020 wore on, and with the CARES Act set to expire, we knew that the HMHB delivery program would be ending in December. In anticipation, we worked to transition our small Personal Shopping program into a more cost effective program we called Coronacare Packages, one which could be sustained without grants or funding beyond personal donations. This program was essentially a smaller version of the HMHB deliveries, but with a more modest set of goods curated from our most common requests from Personal Shopping. This program launched in November 2020 and quickly grew to deliver 50-70 packages of groceries and household supplies to neighbors across Oahu every week. Operating on a small budget funded by supporters and members themselves, this work involves cost saving methods such as buying eggs and rice in bulk before subdividing into household-sized packages. These cost savings allow us to deliver the contents for roughly half the cost one might pay buying small portions at the grocery store.
In January 2021, Coronacare organizers began delivering material aid to our houseless neighbors in Makiki. Cost effective care packages bundled alongside our Coronacare Packages are distributed to our houseless neighbors, along with other supplies and donations we are able to solicit from the community.
Reflecting Back, Looking Forward
Coronacare organizers have participated in numerous other actions and programs, including flood relief, supporting queer organizers, and the Stop Asian Hate march. We look to the community for financial and material support as we continue to develop our work and strengthen our bonds of solidarity. We hope you will join us.