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New GU Caring Club Encourages Community Outreach Among Students | New

New to Gonzaga University this year, the Mutual Aid Club aims to provide students with a clear opportunity to get involved in serving the needs of local marginalized communities in Spokane.

Haydon Ramirez, senior GU and co-founder of the Mutual Aid Club, said he pitched the idea with his best friend and co-founder Anthony Maucione late last semester. They seek to expand their membership and therefore their ability to provide local assistance.

“We both have a mutual interest in politics, activism and service,” Ramirez said. “We were thinking of ways to combine those interests, and we were definitely inspired by some really great local bands in Spokane and wanted to bring what they do to the Gonzaga Community.

Ramirez said that before starting this club, he had volunteered with organizations such as Spokane Community Against Racism and Mutual Aid Survival Squad.

One of the club’s many goals is to begin connecting with these great organizations and working with them to expose students to more options for help.

“The term ‘mutual aid’ itself comes from the idea of ​​collaborating and working together for a greater goal or common good,” Ramirez said. “It can be literally anything, from working together to put food on the table for a struggling family to working to put a temporary roof over someone’s head. one who is homeless – there are tons of different things.”

Starting school in a place that is not their home often leaves students unsure of where and how they can help in the new communities they have joined.

Ramirez said it was part of what led to the start of a caring club on GU’s campus — to give students a guide to service in their new city.

“The purpose of the Mutual Aid Club is to provide Gonzaga students with an outlet in which they can do some of those things of service that are badly needed in a time when many people are struggling and the system itself leaves a lot of people behind,” Ramírez said.

There are other aspects of the club that go beyond general service and outreach.

Ramirez wants the weekly meetings to be an opportunity for education and discussion for members to keep everyone up to date on the political, social and economic issues they are working against.

“Part of the club’s business will not just be service and outreach,” Ramirez said. “These will also be weekly meetings where we talk about issues that need to be resolved.”

New club members can also expect to watch documentaries related to local and global issues, gather supplies, and raise funds for future outreach.

Using awareness as a motivation for practical service is key to the functions of the service club.

“It’s an issue that I think a lot of people see and they think ‘it’s really unfortunate but I don’t know what I can do’,” Ramirez said. “This club is a concrete way to directly improve people’s lives.”

Aidan McGehee, a junior at GU, joined the Mutual Aid Club at the end of the 2022 spring semester and looks forward to collaborating with other local organizations in the future.

Over the summer, he spent time at the Mutual Aid Club doing community outreach during some of the hottest days of the year.

“There is a coalition of local Spokane organizations called Cool Spokane that has set up a cooling station downtown and around town to keep people cool and protect them from the sun,” McGehee said.

Mutual Aid Club is one of many service groups on GU’s campus, but the hands-on nature of this one sets it apart from other GU-affiliated service groups.

“Helping people is important and I’m sure there are other clubs in Gonzaga working to help others,” McGehee said. “[Mutual Aid Club] itself is very welcoming. It’s a very friendly atmosphere within the club.

One aspect of the new club that both Ramirez and McGehee emphasized was the community nature of the service and what the club stands for.

McGehee gave the scenario of seeing a marginalized person on the side of the road who needs basic recognition and help.

“The Mutual Aid Club recognizes that all people are equal,” McGehee said. “This club is important because it aims to recognize this person as a person.”

For Zags who don’t know where to start when it comes to integrating into the Spokane community, this could be a way to understand the city as more than just a college town.

There are several opportunities for education and involvement by attending weekly Mutual Aid Club meetings and the opportunity to contribute to outreach projects in a variety of ways.

“It will give them a better insight into the city and the people who live there,” McGehee said. “It’s going to be good to get more people involved.”

The meetings will take place on Thursdays at 6 p.m. The location is yet to be determined.

For more information, contact the Gonzaga Mutual Aid Club at [email protected], or on Twitter @mutualaidclub and Instagram @gonzagamutualaid.