South Bronx Mutual Aid was founded by Ariadna Phillips in April 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ariadna has been a bilingual educator and community organizer in the Bronx for nearly two decades. She began community organizing in Florida when she was 11 years old.
Our mutual aid formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as we saw the impact of the pandemic rip through our community, particularly on the families of local schoolchildren. David Arvelo joined Ariadna as a fellow lead organizer after co-founding and supporting another mutual aid effort in Uptown Manhattan and the Bronx in May 2020. Desiree Frias, community organizer and founder of Nuestra Nevera community fridge, along with members of City Islanders for Equity and other fridge organizers and community members also joined our organizing committee as well. Over time, our organizing committee has grown to include several other community fridge founders, Bronx residents, local business owners, and community organizers. South Bronx Mutual Aid is committed to ongoing work in mutuality with community fridge, mutual aid, and labor allies in Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and other regions beyond NYC.
Our mutual aid serves the Bronx and Uptown autonomous free fridge community, and have launched the following free community fridges within our own network:
- Anchor Fridge (239 City Island Ave, Bronx, NY 10464)
- Isla Fridge (914 Prospect Ave, Bronx, NY 10464)
- Nuestra Nevera (737 E 156th Street, Bronx, NY 10456)
- People’s Pantry (916 Hunt’s Point Ave, Bronx, NY 10474)
People have always banded together in times of crisis. It’s human nature to help your neighbors. It is ingrained in the fiber of our country and in the roots of who arrives here to take care of each other. We have seen this after disasters impacting our city, whether 9/11 or Sandy. Many of us do this automatically- we simply look out for each other.
There have been free stores and sharing spaces in New York City since the 1960s (if not before), neighborhood financial savings collectives like sousous, church soup kitchens, immigrant mutual benefit societies, little free libraries, school canned food drives, and penny drives to name a few examples of community-based mutual aid. The Bronx has a proud history of banding together in community in times of need to take care of each other.
Most of us have been doing mutual aid for our neighbors our whole lives, we probably just didn’t realize it. What we call “mutual aid” today has been known in history by many names, but always boils down to neighbors helping neighbors.
In mutual aid, we do not distinguish ourselves as volunteers from who we support. We take care of each other according to what we can offer and what we need, like sharing a gallon of milk or gently-used baby clothing with a neighbor or checking in when they are not feeling well.
At South Bronx Mutual Aid, we:
- Take care of our own community
- Set up free community fridges and stock the fridge network in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan
- Distribute free food, clothing, and home goods to the public across the Bronx and Uptown Manhattan
- Connect neighbors to housing, healthcare, and other legal services
- Support in solidarity the labor of our community members