In response to the global pandemic, NCAT initiated a partnership with non-profits, local agencies, and businesses in Butte, Montana, to launch the Butte Mutual Aid Network to assist folks in need because of Covid-19. This is a neighbor-to-neighbor network connecting people who can help with people who need help.
Local residents can visit the website, https://buttemutualaid.org, to complete forms to ask for assistance, offer to volunteer, and provide donations to support needs in the community. A hotline for those more comfortable with the phone is also available: 406-494-8688.
The website also provides information about other resources that people can access if needed.
In the first two weeks, 40 volunteers registered on the network, and 29 people have received assistance. This includes families with young children, some led by single mothers.
The network is connecting volunteers with those in need to deliver groceries, deliver hot meals, and provide companionship and conversation. It is also coordinating with local schools to offer tutoring services for children while schools are closed.
Nearly $5,000 in donations have already been received to provide direct aid to those in need because of the coronavirus pandemic. Financial assistance includes providing Visa and local business gift cards to individuals and families that need help.
Mutual aid networks have been springing up around the country to provide hands-on local assistance and to help people stay connected and share ideas.
“It’s fascinating to me — and encouraging — to see the proliferation of these mutual aid networks across the country and across the world,” said Steve Thompson, Executive Director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). “It’s a nice antidote to the us versus them mentality that has seemed so dominant in recent years.”
“A lot of this is happening organically here in Butte,” Thompson said. “So many people are stepping up to do good things. We just hope to be able to add value to that, to help match needs with volunteers.”
NCAT has served as the facilitator and manager for the network. Energy Corps AmeriCorps member Maryssa Fenwick serves as coordinator, with other NCAT staff providing assistance in various capacities.
Local partners in the network include Butte Broadcasting, the Butte Chamber of Commerce, Butte-Silver Bow City-County, Butte Food Co-op Planning Committee, Butte Local Development Corporation, Headwaters Resource Development Council, the Montana Standard newspaper, Safeway groceries, the Salvation Army, Montana Tech University, and United Way of Butte and Anaconda.
For more information on the Butte network, visit the website or call the hotline. To learn more about mutual aid networks and find information about starting your own network, visit https://aarpcommunityconnections.org/.