Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino update and insight. ..

Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino update and insight. Marcela Slade 2.17.2021

Abundance NC’s Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino program started in March 2020. This program is a mutual aid in which neighbors of the NC Piedmont are willing and able to donate money in order to help pay utilities and shelter for those in need. Some folks have time and resources and help buying and delivering groceries to others. The Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino help is immediate. When there are funds, needs are met within 3-5 days. There is no application process other than reaching out to the organization for help.

Throughout the month of December 2020, Abundance NC created a Holiday Gift Card Campaign for the Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino program and raised $17,000, helping approximately 85 families with food, shelter and utilities. 

Currently the program is in need of funds. Although the moratorium for evictions was extended, people still need to pay their rent. The moratorium just means they won’t get kicked out, but if they don’t pay rent it just accumulates as debt.. .and once the moratorium is lifted they will get kicked onto the streets. And there is no moratorium on utilizes getting cut off. There are several families who have received DISCONNECT notices and a couple who currently have not heat.

Many people are struggling because of Covid-19, but others are in bad situations and Covid-19 just makes things worse. Marcela Slade, Executive Director of Abundance NC and program leader of the Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino program, says she has seen a lot of systemic racism and social inequality throughout the Piedmont of NC, while running this program.  

Factory Life During Covid © Marcela Slade 2021


Just recently Slade got a call from a woman named Maria* who needs help. Maria moved to the NC Piedmont area from Puerto Rico. She came with her husband and 5 year old child. The idea they had was to live with their in-laws until they got acquainted with the area, start working and move into their own place as soon as possible.

Unfortunately Maria now has Covid-19 because she started working. She found the job through an agency called Hire Dynamics and was printing containers at ETS Express Inc. in Concord, NC. This factory makes water bottles and containers made of ceramic, aluminum, glass, plastic and stainless steel. Some of the brands are: h2go, contigo, blenderbottle and bubba.

Maria explained the factory’s Covid-19 protocol was to take your temperature at entry and sign a document stating you had not been exposed to Covid-19. But once you enter, folks use their masks incorrectly at all times. They have them hanging off their chin, around their neck rather than covering nose and mouth. Some people don’t even use a mask.

When Maria informed the agency she had tested positive for Covid-19, the contact at the agency told her to stay home for 14 days and get back in touch once she had negative results in order to go back to work. Maria informed the agent about the mask misuse within the factory and the agent responded: “if a person is 6 feet away from you, they are not required to wear a mask.” The agent also said she would talk to the human resources manager to see if anymore workers were infected.

During the week Maria worked at ETS Express Inc. no one from the factory informed the rest of the workers that people, who they had been in contact with, were out sick due to Covid-19. But last Monday there were so many people out sick, they had changed the shift from starting at 7am to 8am.

Maria says the factory is the only place where she could have been exposed to Covid-19. She and her family have been diligent about Covid-19 social distancing and practicing the 3 W’s. Her family, including in-laws, had to stop working and going to school because of their exposure to Covid-19 and possible contagion with her living in the same household. It was the responsible action to take, Maria says.

Luckily Maria is feeling better but her husband and in-laws are currently sick with Covid-19 due to her exposure. Maria is definitely not going back to work at ETS Express Inc. nor will she seek work through that agency.

This situation is one of those in which people in need, expose themselves at work, in order to survive and those who profit are NOT held responsible for unsafe workplace environments during a pandemic. How is this possible? How are the authorities not enforcing safety measures in factories like these? How can they be open? We are all in this together and if we don’t try to stop contagion as a community, society, Covid-19 is going to be here to stay and our community’s quality of life is in danger.

The good thing is the Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino program continues to help people with the wonderful support of our community who have shown a lot of love and compassion. For instance, this week, Chapel In the Pines Presbyterian Church has made a generous donation to help about a dozen families. And last week the Neighbor2Neighbor / VecinoAVecino program paired a neighbor who actually decided she didn’t want to just buy and deliver the suggested grocery list but rather meet the head of household (family with kids aged 5, 11, 13, 15 and 17) at the grocery store, with mask and socially distant, in order for them to do the shopping themselves.

If you can join your community in helping this great program, please join our program: HERE. If you are willing and able to help but don’t have time, you can donate here or write a check to Abundance NC and mail it to: Abundance NC / Neighbor2Neighbor 220 Lorax Lane / Box 5 / Pittsboro, NC 27312 

Once we receive and process your donation you will receive a tax deductible receipt. *20% goes to program overhead costs.


Related Article: Written by Shorlette Ammons about the Poultry Plant industry and Covid-19 HERE.