In Spring 2020, Canal Alliance established a Financial Assistance program as part of our organizational response to the pandemic and its devastating impact on Marin’s Latino immigrant community. The program offers an emergency cash payment to immigrants and their families who lost their jobs or suffered a reduction of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to the many donors and funders who have supported the program, which provides critical financial support to the community: more than half of recipients don’t otherwise qualify for safety net supports like unemployment insurance benefits or the federal stimulus check.
Since the start of the program, more than $2.5 million has been raised from individual donors, foundations, and corporations, all of which has been distributed as direct cash assistance to over 4,000 individuals and families.
Natalie is one woman who received financial support in December 2020. She lives with her husband and their four children in San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood, and first learned about the program through a flyer she received at our weekly food pantry. Like other families in the neighborhood, her financial situation is challenging. While her husband works in construction, his hours have been cut in half during the pandemic, and Natalie hasn’t been able to work at all.
After receiving financial assistance from Canal Alliance, Natalie feels calmer. She was able to buy clothes and essentials for her children with the money she received. She’s also grateful for the other support she can access from Canal Alliance, including our weekly food pantry on Tuesdays, where she can request and receive diapers, baby wipes, and other resources, in addition to healthy food for her family. According to Natalie, “it’s a relief to know we can get food and diapers at Canal Alliance, as well as masks for our children. Even though this is a scary and troubling time, “it is my children that inspire me. They are the ones that motivate me.”
Rachel and her daughter are another family who benefited from the program, and are in a similar financial situation to Natalie. They share a room with Rachel’s cousin, his wife, and their two daughters. Rachel’s cousin has worked more than 20 years, and this is the first time he was unable to provide for his family. In November, they didn’t have enough money to pay the rent. When Rachel told him that they were going to receive a cash payment through the Financial Assistance program, her cousin cried tears of joy.
Rachel described the help she received from Canal Alliance as a blessing, and says some of her worries are gone. She doesn’t have to constantly ask herself, “how am I going to pay the rent? How are we going to do it?” She said, “I learned that in the darkest moment, that is when a small light comes to us.”
Fortunately, Rachel has been able to start working again on a part-time basis. She expresses her gratitude to all the donors who contributed to the Financial Assistance program, saying, “they are making so many families happy. I know there is a lot of fear, but Canal Alliance is an organization that immigrants can trust. These are people with good hearts, they are thinking about immigrants that are in this country. I want to tell them thank you so much for the support they are giving. It is thanks to them that we can eat well, sleep with peace, and be emotionally okay.”
To learn more about how we are working together to make Marin a place where everyone can live, learn, work, and succeed, read our Crisis and Response Impact Report.
Visit the following link for ways you can support Canal Alliance.