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W MA street worker leader stipends

$11,735 of $12,500 goal

Raised by 253 people in 9 months
We've started a harm reduction task force by and for sex workers here in Western MA, led by drug-using survival workers.  The group also has a regional sex worker peer advocacy and support group component. As the group slowly coheres, we hope to work on sealing records, policing and civil rights issues, medical mistreatment of opioid using sex workers, addressing ID and documentation problems, and many other policy and service angles beyond simply providing harm reduction materials that the sex worker community needs.  We've begun working on security protocols for the community, and we have the resources to do referrals to a wide variety of medical, legal, shelter, and housing services and to provide harm reduction information. 

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 this project, 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 other 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.
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Hi there! After yesterday's generosity on all your parts, we just need another $200-300 to fund next week's meeting of our drug-using-survival-sex-worker-led sex worker harm reduction task force. A cushion beyond that for the premeeting afterwards would be awesome, too. We have a lot going on this summer, including trainings on safe injection/consumption facility advocacy with HRH413/the New England Drug Users' Union, and trainings on the new Hep C medication Harvoni, plus PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV) and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV) with Tapestry staff, and finally, a site visit to a local domestic violence organization to help them build a program for trafficking survivors, And like I told you yesterday, we're still plugging away at a grant application this month and planning on another one for next month.

We got a lot of donations yesterday from activists I know, people who don't usually contribute--to have all you worthies validate us like this warms our cold dead hearts! Whether you're one of our consistent old school donors whom we value more than words can fucking say or you're newer to us/more occasional in your giving according to your means, I hope you can continue to support us and help us make this goal and many others while we work on writing grants and becoming less crowdfund-dependent. We love you!
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Hi there! We just need $400-500 more this weekend for our next meeting of our drug-using-survival-worker-led sex worker harm reduction task force. Our recent success has made us more expensive! Our members have been amazing recruiters, and we’ve had record attendance these past five weeks. For example, we had 15 sex workers in attendance at last week’s premeeting and 16 at the premeeting two weeks before that, when the premeeting is a smaller, hour-long agenda-setting meeting every other week which generally only draws 8-12 people, unlike the larger biweekly two hour meetings. Also, since my co-organizer is taking a sabbatical from meeting duties this summer, errand running for the meetings like obtaining food, harm reduction supplies, copies, the group cigarette pack, and stipends from the bank is more expensive because I don’t have a car and must accomplish these tasks via Ubers. (I’ve tried it walking, believe me, but the sheer volume of stuff I have to carry makes that impractical.) And lastly, we're going to need to re-institute childcare provision for every meeting, as we've had a few new members who are custodial parents. But we’re committed as a group to grant writing this summer to take some of this pressure off you--we’ve already sent off one grant application last month, are working on one this month, and have one we’re eyeing for August/September, so we may be a much less crowdfunding-dependent organization by the end of the fall!

In the meantime, at our last big meeting we had Jill Mckracken of SWOP Behind Bars skype in to talk to us about community based participatory research and how it might benefit our group in future campaigns like one on common nightwalking arrests or fentanyl test strip distribution. This is only the first of a series of conversations we’ll have with her. This next meeting, since our outside presenter cancelled on us, we’ll be brainstorming on the grant narrative we’re working on, talking about how Operation Full Throttle IV and the mass arrests it netted hurt our community and how we might respond to its sequel operations over the next few years, and also discussing long-term ideas we have percolating like a bail fund or a self-defense tool fund--that last one based on a fundraiser by Project SAFE to distribute pepper spray to street workers in their area. (Of course, we’d have to check up on the legality of various self-defense tools in our state first!)

As usual, we’re at a fucking loss as to how to thank donors, this time for their absurd and incredible generosity for my birthday fundraiser for the group. All we can hope is that you continue to support us, and we’ll keep our end of the deal up and keep on serving up these chirpy updates...
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It's my birthday, and all I want for my birthday is $260 more in donations to have us set for this week's meeting of our drug-using-survival-worker-led sex worker harm reduction task force, and maybe a cushion for the premeeting the week after? Thank you all so much for your consistent donation all these seven months. Hopefully we'll be getting this grant soon that'll take care of at least 20 percent of stipends yearly, and I'll be applying for more. Attendance is huge right now and the group has truly become an institution--group members talk about how it stabilizes their lives just to know they're getting a stipend, food, and afterhours needle exchange every week, allowing them to make appointments for the next day knowing they won't be in withdrawal or otherwise distressed. Group members are incredibly engaged in their work-- even just in terms of this grant, the group helped me brainstorm so many ideas for it, and one survival worker member set aside her time to spend a morning brainstorming with me through the questions. The hospital sensitivity training project for best practices in treating opioid-using low-income sex workers has been spearheaded by group members, and we have so many ideas for the future--a free hygiene store, stipended CPR training, a spa day, and so much more. Thank you for standing by us up to now and into the future!
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It's my birthday at midnight tonight, and what I'm asking for this year is $350-400 to make our next big meeting of our drug-using-survival-sex-worker-led sex worker harm reduction task force on the 4th! We need more money than usual because recent attendance at our meetings has been staggering--21 group members at our last big meeting and 16 people at the last smaller premeeting this Weds! Exciting things keep happening here for us. This coming week we plan to have a presentation by Jill Mcracken of SWOP Behind Bars, who'll be skyping in to talk to us about how community based participatory research could benefit us as a community. Plus, we'll be continuing to design our hospital sensitivity training for health professionals working with opioid-using low-income sex workers. My co-organizer and I wrote a grant for the group for the Sex Worker Giving Circle--if we get it, that's a bunch more harm reduction trainings we can do, and 20 percent of stipends for the year taken care of so you can give to us to help fund new projects instead, which I'm sure will be exciting for all you beloved loyal donors out there. I haven't even been able to thank you all yet for the latest wave of donations you've sent us--thank you so fucking much. We hope you can continue to help us out as generously as you have--our deepest gratitude, and damn, happy birthday to me!
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$11,735 of $12,500 goal

Raised by 253 people in 9 months
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