“This Community Doesn’t Have Excuses”

by James A. Bacon

The Washington Post has a feel-good story about a Northern Virginia trailer park on Rt.1 where residents, mostly from Central America, have pulled together to help one another. They watch after one another’s children and give one another rides. They invite outsiders to come teach them practical things, like how to contest evictions and how to safeguard against COVID-19. They invite policemen to the neighborhood, and they distribute fresh produce to those who need it. They even have their own WhatsApp group they use to communicate.

While the men work, the women have organized themselves in a “network of moms” to keep the community running.

Ana Delia Romero, who is partially blind, provided the spark. After surviving a severe bout of COVID-19, she wanted to get more information about the virus to her neighbors, many of whom spoke indigenous languages, not English or even Spanish.

“When Ana asked, ‘Who wants to volunteer?’ the answer was ‘Me, me, me,’ ” Elizabeth Villatoro told the WaPo. “This community doesn’t have excuses. Ana doesn’t say, ‘I lost my vision, I can’t do anything.’ Alberta doesn’t say, ‘I have children with special needs, I can’t do anything.’ We do what we need to do.”

The most amazing thing: the immigrant women got all this done by themselves. No foundation-funded community organizers. No government employees “here to help.” Evidently, they haven’t lived in the United States long enough to embrace the learned helplessness of so many poor Americans. They did what Americans once did before they turned to government to fix every problem — they saw what they needed and they banded together to get it.

Native-born Americans have much to learn from them.