202
202
11

W MA street worker leader stipends

$17,709 of $18,650 goal

Raised by 368 people in 11 months
For the past eleven months, we've run a harm reduction task force by and for sex workers here in Western MA, led by injection-drug-using survival sex workers who are mostly street-based, many of whom are houseless or living in unstable housing . We low-income sex workers have created a weekly community and organizing meeting for ourselves--a haven. At each weekly meeting we provide a high-calorie meal/snacks and cigarettes for each other, as well as access to a bad date list, needle exchange and other harm reduction materials such as Narcan and fentanyl test strips, and often, toiletry donations.  At the larger meetings every two weeks, we hold trainings led by local and national organizing and social service experts on  harm reduction topics that are relevant to us as a community, such as a Know Your Rights training from SWOP Behind Bars, a session on navigating the housing and shelter system with YWCA staff,  as well as PEP (post exposure prophylaxis from HIV) and PrEP (pre-exposure prohylaxis from HIV) info and access informational session with Tapestry Health workers.  We've also incubated many nascent campaigns we're working on in the long term, such as creating a sensitivity training for best practices for treating opioid-using sex workers for local hospitals and our participation in #ReframeTheBlame, a feminist-led national drug users' rights campaign in  which drug users are signing symbolic Do Not Prosecute orders in the event of their deaths from overdose to protest drug-induced homicide laws. 

The focus of the project is on the needs and goals of Western Mass street workers. Street workers take the brunt of the criminalization and stigma of sex work and so they deserve to be the ones calling the shots on how to fight back. The problem is that in order for street worker activists to lead projects like this one, they need to have the resources to do so. Time spent meeting and organizing is time away from survival work, which is often a financial loss low-income street workers can’t afford. The gift cards provided by some non-profits as a response to this problem do not meet the needs of their recipients. They also demonstrate how non-profits and social services often infantilize poor people, not trusting them to make the best choices for themselves with their own money.

That’s why we've been raising cold hard cash for a task force meeting every week, to provide a $25 stipend for 20 street workers or other low-income sex workers to attend, as well as $15 on the off weeks for attendance at the agenda-setting premeetings. Their work and leadership are valuable and deserve to be compensated. The street workers of this region constantly suffer from assaults, arrests, and police harassment. A $15-$25 stipend every week is the least we can give them as a community to support their struggle against this marginalization.

However, the scale of our project has been growing at an astounding rate, and we are now seeing 28-36 sex workers attend every weekly meeting when we started off seeing  8-20 people at each!  We've recently had to cut stipends for the first time in 11 months by $5.  We want to continue to offer every drug-using survival sex worker who needs one a place at our table--we'd like to continue to offer a stipend analogous to a living wage and will not hold meetings in which we have to offer one below minimum wage.  The organizing efforts of low-income injection-drug using workers are unique and invaluable in a sex workers' rights movement where privileged sex workers are over-represented and a harm reduction and drug users' union movement in which women and sex workers have often taken a back seat. We hope that you can help us broaden our fundraising efforts to keep up with the amazing recruitment efforts of our membership and the obvious, desparate need for our task force's work in our area.
+ Read More
For the first time in the eleven months we've been around, our local injection-drug-using-survival-worker-led sex worker harm reduction task force had to cut stipends last week by $5, stipending each worker only $10/hour for their organizing efforts. We'll need $530 this week to hold our premeeting even with a lowered stipend, $705 to offer full stipends . This is AFTER I donated $100 out of my own money last week, as I've often done throughout this project's run, and my co-organizer, also a low-income worker, donated $200 and didn't reimburse herself for a few purchases besides. We are growing at an unprecedented rate as a project--last night 36 sex workers were in attendance at our meeting!!!--and fundraising is not keeping up with the obvious need in our community for our work. We can't really cut costs anywhere--we are already incredibly efficient, offering a high calorie meal or snacks, cigarettes, paid childcare, informational trainings, rent on the space, Ubers to the meeting and back for members who need them, needle exchange, and often, toiletry donations as well as harm reduction and agenda related copies at about $5.75 per member for non-stipend related costs each meeting. We stand by our founding principle of attempting to offer drug-using survival sex workers a stipend analogous to a living wage for their organizing, and we will not offer a stipend which is less than minimum wage. Donations have been slow this past month, but in general, donors have been incredibly generous throughout this project's existence, especially considering that originally we thought compensating drug using survival sex workers for their organizing was going to be a hellishly tough sell. Our ability to keep these weekly meetings running at all thus far has been miraculous, we realize, but we don't want to stop now! We're waiting for grants to come back and will continue to write more, and will think of ways to expand our crowdfunding while not crossposting at you all ad nauseam every week. In the meantime, please give if you can, share us to non-local and drug user and sex worker friendly networks if you can't, and please feel free to offer us any fundraising help or suggestions! We'd actually love volunteers to help us work on our social media strategy and plug the fundraiser to a larger audience which still allows the project to remain safe. So, in summary, thank you so fucking much as usual, yikes, and please help us!
+ Read More
Our need here at the injection-drug-using-survival-worker-led sex worker harm reduction task force is urgent this week! As a one time deal, we need $600--at least $175 more to make next week's meeting, and the rest to make up for our new accounting system, and uh, you know, actually pay rent on our space. Again, please give if you've been meaning to or share us with a network of yours as long as it's not local to us and not teeming with sex work and drug use prohibitionists. This is boring but relevant, so bear with me: We opened a business account with a few sub accounts so that we'd no longer be amateurishly keeping the money in a joint personal account, but having to keep $125 in each of our subaccounts for at least a month and creating a new accounting system in general plowed through our back rent. I'm going to see if I can donate more than the $100 I did yesterday in the next week or two, but in the meantime we could really use the help. Thank you so much for fucking everything--you know who you are.
+ Read More
So, we (at the injection-drug-using-survival-worker-led sex worker group/Whose Corner Is It Anyways/Name TK/we know, we know) are now down to needing $575-625 for next week, thanks to yesterday's mind-blowing generosity on you donors' part and my own $100 donation, which I just sent in. We're adjusting to a new, more transparent and efficient accounting system courtesy of my co-organizer Naomi Lauren, and probably will never need so much in a week again as our original ask yesterday. That said, this would be a great week to give if you've been meaning to, or to share us with your networks as long as they're free of sex work and drug use prohibitionists and not local to us. Next week we'll be going over the #ReframeTheBlame packet on the feminist drug user nationwide campaign to write Do Not Prosecute orders in the event that we die of an overdose, in defiance of both federal and state drug-induced homicide laws, which operate based on a false binary between drug users and sellers and undermine Good Samaritan laws, decreasing the likelihood that people will feel free to call first responders to help overdose victims survive. Our own group member, New England Users' Union and Urban Survivors' Union's Jess Tilley, along with USU co-chairs Louise Vincent and Rebecca Brooks, wrote the campaign toolkit, so it'll be exciting to think about how we can apply that work locally. We'll also be discussing how we can make sure to limit our membership to current and former sex workers--prioritizing the injection-drug-using current survival workers who need the group the most--without violating other sex workers' privacy by questioning their dick sucking bona fides, if you will. This is a problem every sex worker group--every closed peer group, really--runs into, and I'm looking forward to some productive and illuminating discussion leading to our group's own unique resolution of the issue. Finally, we'll be talking out short term and long term plans for expanding access to our bad date list. Thank you so much for making it possible for us to have these conversations and do this organizing for coming up to a YEAR now, solely through your donations.
+ Read More
We at your friendly local injection-drug-using-survival-worker-led sex worker harm reduction task force (one of the most brilliant suggestions for names so far is "Whose Corner Is It Anyways?") are sheepishly coming to you asking for $800 this upcoming week's meeting, which will focus on initially going over our participation in the #ReframeTheBlame campaign (a movement in which drug users are writing Do Not Prosecute orders as living wills in the event of their overdose, in defiance of drug-induced homicide laws) and sex worker identity. We know, it's a fuck of a lot, and we know we've been talking about finding out about grant applications to give you donors a break (we will soon!) but it's STILL a lot for now. It's just what it's come to with our ballooning attendance--that's a *good* problem to have, right? That's what we need with me putting down $100 of my own money, and I'll try and put in more later if I can. As usual, I can't overstate--I can't really *state*, period--how much you've helped us and how much gratitude we have for your consistent and unwavering support of this community project. Last premeeting we discussed what trainings we'd like to have this year--a seminar on restorative justice with some local talent we're looking into, going over the Know Your Rights training again with SWOP Behind Bars' updated curriculum for it, a possible training on banking and dealing with debt, our upcoming and long-awaited safe consumption facility advocacy training which now looks like it will also include and members talked about a government agency whose services they'd be interested in learning more about. We also talked about our growing need for some sort of clothing donation system--we've been doing great on toiletries though we'd like to expand that further, but we'll be putting some energy in figuring out how to provide ourselves with clothing as well. We collectively realized we'll be coming up on a year of meeting in October, and we're just hoping we can keep this miraculous undertaking going! Tomorrow I'll tell you all about what we'll be doing at this week's meeting--bet you can't WAIT.
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update

$17,709 of $18,650 goal

Raised by 368 people in 11 months
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
   Connect
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
CT
$25
Carlos Torres
7 hours ago
$100
Anonymous
8 hours ago
$180
Anonymous
9 hours ago
$50
Anonymous
18 hours ago
$50
Anonymous
18 hours ago
JB
$20
Jessica Begans
19 hours ago
$30
Anonymous
19 hours ago
$50
Casey Carmody
19 hours ago
$5
Anonymous
19 hours ago
MM
$25
Molly MacGregor
19 hours ago
or
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.