One Year of North Brooklyn Mutual Aid

Gratitude, a year in photos, and a toast to the future!

Hey neighbors,

365 days ago, Brooklyn felt different. As the city started shutting down and the sirens started endlessly blaring, we didn’t know what would come next. Despite the uncertainty, we could see that our existing systems were failing those in need, and we needed to act fast. So we came together, to figure out how we would get through this--as a community. 

What began as a few Google Sheets to organize community volunteers became 1,200+ neighbors, ready and eager to be connected. What began as an effort to ensure that nobody in our community would go without groceries and PPE has expanded to over ten initiatives (and growing!) to support our community and ensure everyone can thrive. What began is still beginning, and we’re so proud of the impact of this work in the past year:

  • 4 pop-up Free Stores

  • 40 covid-19 vaccine appointments booked on behalf of eligible neighbors

  • 50 open space clean ups and environmental stewardship events

  • Over 60 devices handed off to students for remote learning

  • 325 books redistributed to incarcerated folks in partnership with Books Through Bars

  • 600+ deliveries of groceries to neighbors and weekly hot meals to seniors

  • 600 toys distributed to neighbors this past holiday season

  • Over 600 pieces of winter clothing collected for neighbors in need

  • Over 1,200 active volunteers (!)

  • 3,000 hygiene kits built and distributed since July 

  • Over 3,000 neighbors connected through our Slack and Facebook communities

  • Over 13,000 masks delivered in partnership with Face Mask Aid

  • Over $65,000 in donations via Open Collective

  • Over 80,000 lbs of food scraps collected for community compost

The crises of the past year shined a light on critical inequities within our society, and the ways our existing systems have failed to support those who need it. Beyond the numbers, North Brooklyn Mutual Aid is about a framework for community--in crisis or the every day--where no neighbor is left behind. One where we work together to build more resilient, connected, and sustainable communities. 

As we enter this second year, we are fundraising to ensure we can continue this work. Though every donation has impact, sustaining donors provide much needed stability and sustainability that enables long-term planning. If you are able, consider supporting North Brooklyn Mutual Aid as a sustaining donor. For the next week, all sustaining commitments will be matched up to $1,000!

Neighborhood-specific support did not start with our group, and we would be remiss not to acknowledge the massive benefit of working hand-in-hand with neighborhood partners. At this milestone, we feel immense gratitude to folks at St. Nicks Alliance, Los Sures, St. Stephen Food Pantry & Soup Kitchen, Taylor Wythe Community Center, Lindsay Park Houses, Northside Senior Center, and North Brooklyn Angels, among others. 

We know we are strongest when we stand together, and we thank all of our neighbors for the numerous ways you have shown up for this work. Here’s to another year, and beyond 🥂

We’re taking a break from our usual updates to show, rather than tell, the story of the past year of North Brooklyn Mutual Aid. Below are some snapshots from our community initiatives (NBK Vax, North Brooklyn Device Drive, NBK Essentials, North Brooklyn Compost Project, North Brooklyn Fridges, North Brooklyn Housing Defense, Essentially Open North Brooklyn , Hygiene Kits, Free Store, and NBK Stewards) that highlight the incredible work of our neighborhood volunteers over these past 365 days: 

Left: The makings of a winter hygiene kit. Right: hygiene kits on the pantry shelves of the Greenpoint community fridge. In October 2020, Hygiene Kits shifted from delivering finished kits to non-profit partners to distributing through the NBkMA network—volunteers drop kits at community fridges, free stores, and conduct direct outreach to houseless neighbors. This shift has given the work new purpose and increased efficacy.
One of the longest standing community initiatives under the NBkMA umbrella, the North Brooklyn Compost Project collects food scraps—in all their glory—each Sunday. Below: a Brooklyn Scrap Shuttle volunteer with a cargo bike used to haul scraps from auxiliary drop off locations.
From August to October 2020, volunteers with North Brooklyn Census conducted 20+ canvassing events to promote awareness about and directly help neighbors fill out the 2020 Census.
Toys and books on the shelves of a North Brooklyn Free Store. Neighbors are encouraged to give what they can, and take what they need. Below: kids craft valentines at the Free Store’s “Love Letter to Brooklyn” event in February 2021.