Local nonprofits see outpouring of support after election – Metro US

Local nonprofits see outpouring of support after election

Local nonprofits see outpouring of support after election
Courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay

While many Americans on Wednesday morning were processing the fact that Donald Trump had been elected president, Amy Derjue was busy making charitable donations.

“I was disappointed in the outcome and I felt like I wanted to do something, aside from voting,” the 35-year-old public relations professional from Quincy said.

She made donations to Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Committee to Protect Journalists and GLAAD, an LGBT activist organization.

“I felt that by supporting organizations that support the groups of people I value made me feel less disappointed in the outcome and like I was taking some agency back,” Derjue said. “Instead of just posting to social media, I’m literally putting my money where my mouth is.”

Derjue said that she thinks a lot of people are having a “Monday morning quarterback” feeling in which they realize they may have not participated enough in the election. Just as thousands took to Boston’s streets to protest Trump’s win, many people are now trying to keep alive organizations that help populations Trump doesn’t seem to support.

Trump has offered few specifics about what he would do as president in the area of social services. He has stated his intent to dismantle Obamacare and pursue the deportation of undocumented residents. Such positions have Trump opponents worried about what he might do as president.

Donations to the ACLU of Massachusetts have seen a 500 percent jump compared to this time last year, spokesperson Aaron Wolfson said. The influx can be traced to around midnight on Election Day.

Along with an uptick in monetary contributions—many from first-time donors—the ACLU has seen a record number of people reaching out to volunteer, showing that people are willing to give both their time and money, Wolfson said.

Time is just as important a commodity, especially for organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. BBBS pairs kids with adult mentors for long-term relationships that president and CEO Wendy Foster said “change the lives of these children for the better forever.”

BBBS relies on volunteers to invest their time in hanging out with these children. On a normal weekday, the organization receives about four to six volunteer applications, Foster said.

Since Tuesday evening, more than 50 people have reached out about becoming a volunteer.

“It’s a very significant increase and I have to say, it’s one of the most heartening things on a day like today when you realize how divided our country is,” Foster said.

Foster noted that since many of the volunteers are middle- or upper-class, educated working professionals and the kids receiving mentors are often minorities who are at or below the poverty level, the relationships bring together different parts of the community who likely would have never met if not for BBBS.

“There’s just something really, really powerful about that in light of this election, about the ability of people to come together and make the fabric of the community—which is so frayed right now—repaired and stronger,” she said. “If we want to create a society where everybody matters and fight against bigotry and intolerance, then we do have to be a role model for children.”

Another issue of focus this election cycle has been sexual assault, with several women sharing storiesabout being assaulted by Trump. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) has seen an outpouring of support since his win—more than 20 people have inquired about volunteering (the organization usually only gets one or two inquiries a day) and there’s been an average of one donation per hour, mostly from first-time donors, according to BARCC.

Executive Director Gina Scaramella attributes much of this support directly to the election.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with handling how upset people have been,” she said. “These [donations] were really about people saying this work is more important than ever, that they want to do something to support survivors after the results and that they want to keep fighting against a culture that would support being people victimized or dehumanized.”

Some donors have been attaching personal notes to their contributions, saying things like “This is what little I can do to try to help our world following the election results,” and “Thank you so much … for being a resource I know I can count on no matter how politics go.”

While some who have donated to various organizations identified themselves as Hillary Clinton supporters, they urge everyone to participate in this kind of activism.

“In a time like this when the country divided, we all need to think of little ways we can do something to help,” said 46-year-old Dave Wedge of Milton.

Wedge was in his hometown of Brockton on Wednesday when he passed a homeless shelter he’s seen many times before. He was upset about the tone of the election and decided to stop in and write a check to the shelter right then and there.

“I feel in a lot of ways we’ve become a selfish society… We’ve lost that spirit of community and brotherhood,” he said. “We should be trying to bridge these gaps and heal some of these wounds. We’re all in it together.”

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