By Kimberly Davin DeGraff
As the President of Yucatan Giving Outreach (YGO), I am painfully aware when a crisis or natural disaster hits the small towns here in the Yucatan, and most critically, when there is a lack of food or supplies. As COVID-19 was moving its way through China and then Europe, I realized we should start buying and storing food supplies.
The next step was: how to get the word out. Because Facebook is utilized by so many – both by locals and by the expat community here, I used this to boost an ad regarding some deliveries we had undertaken to needy communities – getting the word out that YGO was helping supply food to those in need. As soon as the boost started, the messages started rolling in!
Working from home, the YGO team, myself accompanied by Fernanda, the manager of our YGO offices; Maria Teresa, our parttime store assistant; and Shannon Murray, a volunteer and board member, began coordinating deliveries to individual families and entire villages. I am pleased to report that we have not turned anyone away, including villages big and small in the state of Yucatan, including many impoverished areas close to Merida.
As food shortages began to hit in the United States, I began to worry about our ability to continue to get food out to the needy. Two of our volunteers, Grant Beare and Adrian Gomez, were instrumental in purchasing food in large quantities and at a good price. And most importantly, we are also fortunate to have a nonstop stream of donors who make this possible.
So I created a system to pack and sanitize bags out of my home and a secondary one at the YGO store/food bank to handle individual cases one day a week in Itzimna. Volunteers then pick up the food bags, masks, gel, and any other supplies needed from my home office to safely deliver to needy families in Merida and towns throughout the state of Yucatan. This all made possible by a handful of amazing volunteers who risk themselves to get food to those in need and dedicated donors.
To date, with the blessings of our donors, we have delivered 3,879 bags to those in need and are going strong. One bag provides food for a family of four for five to six days at the cost of 133 pesos each. We have personally assisted several children’s homes and some severe personal cases with food and money.
We will not stop until the pandemic is over and people can go back to work. Some of the areas we have delivered to, but not all, are: Ochil, Subincancab, Xcuny, Paraiso, Hacienda San Bernardino, Seyes, Yobain, Invasión Guadalupana, Chochola, Sinanche, Chabihua, Chuchoh, Hacienda Yunku, Kimbila, Huhi, Chenche de Torres, Seye Cenotillo, Oncan, Temax, Dzidzibachi, Mulchechen, Xcalachen and Cansahcab and the transgender community.
Our first mission was food relief, but then another urgent need was brought to our attention: that hospital staff was working without personal protective gear – they had no masks nor the funds to purchase the gear to protect themselves at the front line of COVID-19.
In a short time we collected funds specifically for this protective gear and distributed over 800 washable masks and over 350 N95 masks to hospital staff at the front line. Additionally, we have provided masks to caregivers at two local children’s shelters. A list of the hospitals assisted are T1 UMAE, Hospital Juarez, Hospital Uman, Hospital Oran and a few other smaller hospitals. Normally there are many ways to get involved, but under the current pandemic, we are only taking donations via PayPal or bank transfer. One hundred percent of donations received goes to helping those in need. Our PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org or Banorte bank account 0328914113. Feel free to follow us on our FB page Yucatan Giving Outreach A.C. for updates.
— Kimberly Davin DeGraff or Kimmy Suki
President of Yucatan Giving Outreach nonprofit
Be the branch to those in need.