Mutual Aid and Community Care
Mutual aid is the idea that when systems fail to care for our community, it becomes the community’s responsibility to care for each other. This means helping each other get our material needs met and challenging the conditions that cause our community to struggle. Part of the idea of mutual aid is that it cannot be taken away. It is built on mutual care and relationships, not charity.
PCAA works to facilitate mutual aid and community care in a few ways. First, we moderate the Disabled Pittsburgh Mutual Aid Facebook group. This group is a place where people in our community can help each other meet their needs. The group is a place where people work together to meet one another’s needs, include for rides, food, healthcare, social support, navigating systems, and many other things. We also host a weekly, online support group that connects via this Facebook group. Second, we are able to help disabled community members with some limited funding. Our mutual aid fund is a new project that seeks to help disabled people in Allegheny County get their needs met.
The Mutual Aid Fund
This fund is intended to help disabled people in Allegheny County get their needs met through small amounts of funding (up to $120). The fund is overseen by PCAA staff and funding decisions are made via a partnership between PCAA staff and volunteers. We are not able to provide funding on an emergency basis at this time. While we do our best to make this process happen as quickly as we can, please expect a decision and funding plans within 1-2 weeks.
- To receive funding, in the form of a VISA Gift Card or check, up to $120, applicants must fulfill all of the following:
- Identify as a disabled person, person with a disability, chronically ill person, or d/Deaf person.
- Live in Allegheny County.
- Ask for funding for a need rather than a want.
- The request may not violate PCAA’s Values (see Our Values). Some examples of requests that may violate PCAA’s Values are ABA therapy, expenses associated with guardianship or conservatorship, complementary and alternative medicine treatments with scientifically proven harmful outcomes.
1. The application is submitted.
2. Staff make a preliminary decision based on criteria.
a. Approval proceeds to secondary decision-making.
b. More information means the application did not have enough information to determine whether the application met the criteria. Staff will request required information from the applicant.
c. Denial means the application contains the required information and does not meet the criteria. Staff will issue a denial including reasoning.
3. Volunteers receive an anonymized application and make a secondary decision based on criteria. This helps mitigate any bias by staff.
a. Approval means the application is approved and will be funded. The application must receive 50% +1 of votes for approval by volunteers.
b. More information means the application did not have enough information to determine whether the application met the criteria. The application must receive 50% of votes for more information by volunteers. Staff will request required information from the applicant. After the information is received, the application will return to secondary decision-making.
c. Denial means the application contains the required information and does not meet the criteria. The application must receive (#) of votes for denial by volunteers. Staff will issue a denial including reasoning.
4. Staff will allocate funding to approved applicants based on:
a. Immediacy of need. Heath, safety, and housing needs will be prioritized over other needs.
b. Funding available. Amounts up to $120 may be disbursed based on available funding.
c. Whether the applicant has received funding from this mutual aid fund in the past.
d. Availability of other resources that can help in part or in full to fulfill the need. PCAA, if unable to fully fund the need, may refer to other social service organizations.
You can sign up to become a volunteer here. Volunteers for this project must go through one of our periodic volunteer trainings in order to work on this project.
You can also join our Facebook community and help by creating relationships with your local disabled community through providing mutual support. This could look like direct help with rides, meals, support or things like experience and referral to safe service providers.
You can donate to the mutual aid fund here. Please note that donations are subject to our fiscal sponsorship agreement. This means 90% of your donation will be directly redistributed to disabled people in need.
You can also help by providing in-kind donations. These are things like gift cards to Giant Eagle, Aldi, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and other retailers and services common in our region. You can mail these to us at P.O. Box 4618, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.