In a year marked by a global pandemic and the deep economic crisis that has followed, vulnerable populations have found themselves in an even more precarious situation. Inspired by a group in Washington, D.C., that has been supporting neighbors in need, two Montgomery College alumni and a friend, all local residents, launched the Rockville Rainbow Collective.
To learn more about the Rockville Rainbow Collective visit their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. They are also available via email and through this phone number: 240-258-8651.
Visit this link to sign up to receive a meal and or PayPal to donate.
Their goal is to help their fellow queer and transgender neighbors of color. “It’s such a huge thing that is happening right now, and it’s such a difficult thing to hold, especially when we know so many people of color, especially LGBTQ people of color, are being disproportionately affected by food insecurity,” said Gayarti Girirajan, who started this initiative along with MC alumni Leigh Robertson and Audra Jacobs.
They looked around and realized that in the midst of such havoc, all they could do was take a first step toward helping their community. “We are trying to stray away from the savior aspect. If people need it, if people want a hot meal, that’s something that we can give right now,” said Jacobs, a theater major now attending Bowie State University after graduating from MC in 2019.
This is how the process works: if anyone needs or wants a hot meal, they can fill out a form online and submit it by Thursday at noon that week. The organizers will then buy the ingredients, cook, and deliver the meal to those who signed up by 6 or 7 p.m. on Friday evening. After a month or so of planning, they made their first deliveries in early September to four people who had signed up.
This is a really doable first step, fulfilling one small need that we can right now, in response to all these drastic upheavals
“Right now, we have a maximum of 10 people we could serve per week. That’s the cap because we are all either working or going to school as well, but as we get more volunteers, and figure out the process, hopefully we will expand it,” Jacobs said.
The collective hasn’t partnered with any organizations at this point, though they have reached out to some to help them get the word out. They have also reached people through social media, and word of mouth, and by posting flyers in local restaurants and on lampposts.
After being part of a similar effort in D.C., they thought of their more immediate community and how they could be of service there. “This was sort of a way to take that first step into helping and getting to know the community around us,” Girirajan said. “I know I have personally been doomsday because of climate change and so much more, and what I developed to deal with that was getting to know neighbors and helping out my community when I can. This is a really doable first step, fulfilling one small need that we can right now, in response to all these drastic upheavals.”
They would gladly accept donations to buy ingredients and more volunteers to help build the collective, but they are committed to keeping this service going even if it needs to come out of their own pockets.
They believe the crisis brought on by COVID-19 is bringing previously existing issues to light.
“I don’t love the pandemic,” Jacobs said, “but when you strip the floorboards and find whatever you find underneath, you can’t ignore it anymore.”