Caring, Sharing and Getting Good Done

What She's Doing and What You Can Do

My name is Stephania Vasconez. I was born in Ecuador, then moved to the United States when I was 10 years old. I grew up in Grand Junction and graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelors in Psychology. Shortly after graduating, I moved to Los Angeles where I became increasingly passionate about philanthropy through my volunteer work at a houseless shelter on skid row. 

When it came time to leave Los Angeles, I sold or donated everything I had and traveled in an RV for 6 months. Traveling the world prior to the pandemic helped me to recognize the interconnectedness of the human experience and I knew the next chapter of my life would need to be socially impactful. I returned to Grand Junction to regroup with my family and then COVID happened.

I was also volunteering with the soup kitchen when COVID began shutting down the restaurants in GJ, the food trucks had to be diverted to food pantries, which reached storage capacity within a couple of days. This meant the pantries were being forced to rotate food out and possibly dispose of perfectly good produce. I knew I couldn’t let this happen, so I decided to fill up my entire vehicle with crates of fresh produce and just started messaging people. This is how I got connected to the GJ Mutual Aid distribution event. When I pulled up to unload my car, I asked if they needed help and they said “jump in!” I’ve been at the distro ever since and now I help coordinate it every week.

Community donations kept the distribution going for a few months, but as the needs of our community continued and the number of volunteers kept increasing, I realized our relationships needed to evolve, so Mutual Aid Partners was born. Not only did we need a more formal organizational structure to be able to collect tax-deductible donations, but we also identified a support gap in our community that required resources other than food. I filed for incorporation in August of 2020 and we quickly brought together an incredibly dedicated board of directors, all firm believers in the concept of Mutual Aid.

How can people get in contact, donate, volunteer?

Our website is www.mutualaidpartners.org where people can fill out our volunteer interest form to receive a weekly email as well as make a tax-deductible donation via Paypal.

Our general email is info@mutualaidpartners.org

With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other Holidays coming how can people help the most?

Donating turkey dinners, warm coats, and of course, monetary donations will help us respond to the needs of our community in real-time. Sometimes basic needs come in different forms. With more families being evicted from their homes, we’re seeing a significant increase in families living in their cars.  One way we can help is with food, but another way is with gas cards! 

Now is a great time to volunteer! Have a specific skillset? Think about how your collaboration may be the missing piece of a puzzle. Know how to fix a bike? Offer your services to help someone willing to collect donated bikes and tune them up! For some people, a bike may be the only form of transportation to help them get to and from work.   

What is the most rewarding thing about Mutual Aid Partners for you and the volunteers?

On a weekly basis, we help people from all walks of life: from CMU students to war veterans, from those living at senior care facilities to our houseless neighbors. Some people that have never had to ask for help, are finding themselves with a desperate need to reach out to their community for the first time. Being able to work together and share solidarity with another human being is a lovely feeling, our volunteers truly care about this community and many have found purpose, including myself. It takes more than a village, it takes a community and with over 10,000 volunteer hours, out on the field and behind the scenes, we have shown that we ARE stronger together.   

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