Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE)
where they can depend on supermarket gift cards, grocery deliveries, infant supplies, and assistance with rent and utility bills. The small- but mighty-team at WEE has been working around the clock to develop new systems and provide these essential services to meet the urgent needs of their members. WEE's Executive Director Olga Tacure explains that, “When we saw the great need for food and thought about cultural food sensitivity in a diverse community, the grocery store gift cards were one of the best food assistance options we could provide families.” However, they are also offering grocery and baby supplies delivery for families that do not have the ability to leave their home because they have tested positive for the COVID virus.
Tacure often begins her day coordinating with WEE’s volunteers to review grocery pick-up and delivery schedules, review intake forms and donation pick-ups, and prepare for her daily Zoom meeting with the Revere response team to coordinate efforts to support residents. Each new day, the schedule and needs are different but Tacure and her team’s dedication to their members and love for their community helps drive them to meet these high demands.
Founded in 2010, WEE was created in response to the increasing need for a community-based organization led by immigrant women of color working to support its members by helping them navigate U.S. customs and empowering them to become engaged advocates in their communities. WEE’s founders recognized that low-income immigrant and refugee women of color were struggling to meet their basic needs and finding it difficult to successfully integrate into, and participate in, American society. WEE aims to close the inequality gap by providing members with educational workshops and workforce skills development training, and by being a consistent organizer, advocating for women’s rights and immigrant rights in their community and beyond.
The communities in which WEE works are home to some of the largest immigrant populations in Greater Boston. Looking at Revere, over the last 30 years, the foreign-born population has increased 25 percentage points, one of the largest increases in the area. Today, 37 percent of residents are foreign-born. According to Tacure, 95 percent of the their members are undocumented and are supporting families sizing from two to eight people, and this crisis is only bringing up the underlying issues their members have been dealing with long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The common concern Tacure hears from WEE members, is their financial insecurity. They are frightened they will soon be unable to pay rent, bills, and provide food for their families. Thus, even the gesture of a box of diapers appearing on the front doorstep, or an envelope with a gift card to buy groceries goes a long way for these families. It gives them a sliver of hope, and a reminder that the WEE community is looking out for them. In addition to their daily operations, WEE has continued to expand their services to meet the current needs of the communities they serve. They have developed a series of ways for individuals to support their organization’s work, including making donations to the diaper drive and volunteering to deliver groceries. Anyone interested in helping can visit their website to contact the team at WEE about getting involved.
This is one in a series of stories about grantees of the Boston Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. These Greater Boston nonprofits are on the front-lines of our community's response to this crisis. While we are all struggling to cope with the hardships of the coronavirus, these organizations, their leaders and their staff are serving the most vulnerable among us. Boston Indicators, the Boston Foundation’s Research Center, is providing valuable data and analysis for these stories. Visit tbf.org for more on the COVID-19 Response Fund.
Where does an undocumented and unemployed individual seek assistance in this global health crisis? For many women of color and their families in Revere and surrounding cities, that place of refuge is