NEW BEDFORD – Dartmouth resident Brooke Araujo and Dartmouth native Lindell Baptista have joined forces after meeting three years ago with a common goal in mind: to help those in need, charity to that time.
“We have always had a passion to fight social injustices, not only in the community but in the country,” Baptista said.
Launched in September 2020, Araujo and Baptista created “Take Back NB”, a community organization to help homeless and low-income individuals and families. Growing up in New Bedford and surrounding communities, the two women said they saw the impacts of income inequality.
So much so that Araujo said that when deciding where to start, she recognized the large homeless community that we see in the city center every day.
“It pushed him to the fore,” Araujo said.
This started their research. According to the New Bedford Homeless Service Providers Network, 372 adults and children in New Bedford are living in shelters or on the streets in 2021, down slightly from the 2020 statistic of 398 people.
“Brooke and I saw it, there’s an architecture created to deter them,” Baptista said in reference to the cobblestone blocks that have been reconfigured in the median. “People don’t believe it exists in their area.
First step: care packages for the homeless
Araujo and Baptista first approached the problem by creating care packages after researching what might be best for men and women. For women, they have included menstrual products because it is not something accessible to everyone who needs it. They used their own money to create about 20 packages at a time, including socks, underwear, water, juice, and granola bars, and distributed them to those on the street. while crossing the city. Each package costs between $ 10 and $ 15.
After posting their project online, the women received monetary donations from community members through the Cash app. Soon the city opened its portfolios to Take Back NB.
“Seeing people on the same page is bigger than us,” Araujo said.
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Last winter, the duo created a “Community Coatrack” downtown filled with donated winter clothing and a box of mittens, scarves and other accessories. Unfortunately, the coat rack and box were stolen the next day, but the owner of Beauty Union on Barkers Lane offered to display the coat rack next to the store.
“With these community projects, we just assume that if someone takes it, it’s because they need it,” Araujo said. “It is being used by those in need in the city, and we cannot let this incident stop us from giving back. ”
The coat rack will come back when the temperatures start to drop.
Free food in the fridge
Take Back NB’s most recent project was the Community Refrigerator and Pantry located behind the Positive Action Against Drug Addiction building on Coggeshall Street in the North Quarter. Adorned with artwork by local artist Jessica Alexandrite, the fridge / freezer combo holds water, sports drinks and juices while the pantry holds fruit, bread and groceries. non-perishable. The freezer can hold frozen meals or vegetables. For safety reasons, Take Back NB has recommended prepackaged products over homemade snacks and meals. The public will have 24/7 access to the refrigerator.
Originally, the women wanted to partner with another organization, but when that plan failed, PAACA’s Carl Alves stepped in to help them. Currently, it is the only community refrigerator available, and the duo will wait to see its expansion.
The biggest problem is partnering with local businesses and farmers for fresh produce for the refrigerator. Because most of the fridge is donation based, they look for a consistent donor to keep the fridge stocked.
“We are looking to partner with anyone local who is willing to donate on a regular basis,” Baptista said.
“We try to meet the farmers, even the people who own their own gardens,” Araujo said.
Future plans for Take Over NB
Take Back NB received a grant of just under $ 200 from United Way of Greater New Bedford to provide free haircuts to homeless and income earners on October 3. More information on the event and additional grants will be announced over the next week. Depending on its success, Araujo said it could be a recurring event. In November, the duo will organize a food drive for the holiday season. Right now, they’re just taking it one day at a time.
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As they both are, Araujo and Baptista are working hard to come up with more ideas. They said there was an opportunity to invite local high school students to volunteer at events, which is something they would encourage.
“It’s very revealing to see it firsthand,” Baptista said. “We can unite as a city and work towards this. ”
To donate money for supplies, women request donations through Cash App to their $ TakeBackNB account.
Standard-Times editor Kerri Tallman can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @kerri_tallman for links to recent articles.
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