SOUTHERN SOLIDARITY is a volunteer community-based organization that distributes daily aid to the unhoused / homeless residents of New Orleans. Their day-to-day starts with prepping meals and essentials ( such as clothing and medical supplies) for their evening distribution. Before the distribution starts, hard work goes into raising funds and organizing donations from locals. They have already raised $15,000 on their Go Fund Me campaign towards their goal of $20,000.
Jasmine Araujo is the founder and key organizer of Southern Solidarity. Many volunteers help within the process. On some days, there can be as many as 10 – 20 volunteers with a five-car caravan. Other days it can be a single truck and five volunteers on a rainy evening. The daily route depends on how many meals are collected for distribution. The French Quarter, Marigny, CBD are their first stops on their route, and then it’s on to other locations. Many days you can find another vehicle following giving out clothing, shoes, and bedding.
SOUTHERN SOLIDARITY began its mission soon after UNITY of New Orleans (a non-profit organization providing housing and services to the homeless) hauled a portion of the homeless population with RTA buses to The Hilton Garden Inn on Gravier Street in the CBD. While the private hotel rooms provide extra beds during the quarantine crisis and the shelters are packed, hundreds are still sleeping on the streets.
What you may not realize is there are over 1,200 people currently trying to find shelter, with more than 400 of those individuals left to sleep on the streets during this global pandemic. The hotel vouchers have covered less than 1/4 of this vulnerable population. People are starving and have even less access to resources than before the crisis.SOUTHERN SOLIDARITY – southernsolidarity.org
The volunteers wear their shirts with PPE in solidarity and put their lives on the line for others. In addition to distributing food and resources to the homeless, they also provide an open ear. At times they are greeted with excitement, while others share stories of grief. The Coronavirus pandemic has added hardships and exploitations to the daily struggles the homeless already endure.