A Message From Executive Director Mimi Lok

Dear Friend,

We all need as much hope and inspiration as we can get right now. At Voice of Witness, our friends—educators, students, and activists from and/or supporting communities impacted by the criminal justice and immigration systems, including individuals facing displacement, financial uncertainty, and more—have been hit particularly hard. 

So much of VOW’s work is based on deep relationships and in-person contact—from our in-school support work to our oral history interviews and group trainings. But since this isn’t possible right now, we've been reaching out to our community partners to check on their well-being and reinforce solidarity and support—primarily by directly listening to and responding to their rapidly evolving needs. We are working with our partners to: 
  • Find the most equitable and creative models for at-home learning that meet the needs of marginalized students, whether it's a Voice of Witness resource or something from one of our partner organizations;
  • Raise awareness of other urgent community needs, including much needed donations;
  • Develop solutions for providing accessible, virtual opportunities for events, collaboration, and storytelling with our community members during the coming months.
We are here for you during this challenging time. Below, we are sharing a curated list of COVID-19 resources providing support in a variety of ways, whether you’re seeking educational tools, financial help, or information. For those with time or resources to spare, we have included opportunities for urgently needed donations as well. We are also bringing you a Q&A with Indigenous activist Gladys Radek for Women’s History Month as a reminder of resilience and strength, and the need to build movements for a better world. These stories must be heard and widely shared. 

We’d love to hear from you if you have ideas about how VOW can further support and engage with the community during these circumstances, and we hope you’ll check out our resources and content on the VOW website. As always, we hope our human rights oral history book series can provide stories that complicate, inspire, and ultimately encourage hope and connection during these times. 

Thank you for your partnership, which makes it possible for us to continue our work while we all navigate this unprecedented situation together.
In kindness, care, and solidarity,
Mimi Lok
Executive Director

Resources for Navigating COVID-19

  • General Information:
    • San Francisco GovInformation hub on COVID-19.
    • Vox: 11 charts that explain the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Educational Resources for Students, Teachers, & Families:
    • SFUSD: Free meals and groceries for students.
    • OUSD: Free meals for pick-up on Mondays and Thursdays.
    • ComcastFree 60-day internet for low-income families.
    • KQEDOnline learning resources for teachers to use.
    • The Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area: A resource with arts-based lessons for students to engage with.
    • School Library Journal: A set of key links on COVID-19; free resources and newly free access to learning services; and tips for energizing online instruction.
    • Think Indigenous: Indigenous educators volunteer to teach short K-8 lessons online amid school closures.
  • Financial Support:
  • More:
    • SF Chronicle: Tips for older adults and their loved ones.
    • California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance: Resources for undocumented communities across California.
    • Domestic Violence: If you or someone you know if experiencing domestic violence, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, If you cannot speak safely, their chat is available 24/7 at
    • Crisis Text Line: If experiencing mental health distress, text “HOME” TO 741741 and a crisis worker will text you back.
    • Freelance Artists: A list of resources for freelance artists.

Donate & Take Action

  • International Rescue Committee is asking folks to make donations to their Soft Landing Fund, which supports Bay Area refugee families that have arrived in the last six months.
  • The Nation's Take Action Now: Sign up to receive 3 actions in your inbox to support low-income, incarcerated, homeless, and undocumented people confronting the harshest effects of the pandemic.
  • Food Banks: Contact a food bank near you and ask what they need right now.
  • East Bay Sanctuary Covenant: End ICE raids! Even as California ramps up social distancing, ICE agents continue to conduct raids and arrests in immigrant communities.
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance: Take care of the people who care for families; donate to the Coronavirus Care Fund.
  • One Fair Wage: Donate to the Emergency Coronavirus Tipped and Service Worker Support Fund.
  • Coalition on Homelessness & Youth Spirit Artworks: Donate to people who are no longer able to sell Street Sheet and Street Spirit newspapers.

A Conversation with Indigenous Activist Gladys Radek

Gladys Radek (Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en First Nations) is a grassroots advocate fighting for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) in Canada. Herself a survivor of sexual violence in the foster system, Gladys also lost her niece Tamara who went missing in 2005 at age 22 along the notorious Highway of Tears. This inspired Gladys to become a community activist and eventually a Family Advocate for the National Inquiry into MMIWG in Canada. Gladys is a VOW narrator in our forthcoming oral history book called How We Go Home: Voices From Indigenous North America.

VOW had the opportunity to speak with Gladys about her experiences advocating for Indigenous women and girls. Check out what she had to say.

Read the Q&A

Voice of Witness (VOW) is an award-winning nonprofit that advances human rights by amplifying the voices of people impacted by injustice. Cofounded by Dave Eggers, Mimi Lok, and Dr. Lola Vollen, we explore issues of criminal justice, migration, and displacement, and forge space for marginalized voices to be heard. Our book series depicts these issues through the edited oral histories of people most closely affected by them. Our education program connects educators, students, and members of justice movements with oral history tools for storytelling and social change.

You can support us by purchasing books in the Voice of Witness series
or by making a direct tax-deductible donation

Copyright © 2020 Voice of Witness, All rights reserved.

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