Her Neighbors Needed Help. This Mother of Four Stepped Up.
Mariflor Ventura has coordinated assistance for more than 100 families hit hard by the pandemic.
Virginia’s stay-at-home order in the spring of 2020 brought pain to Mariflor Ventura’s neighborhood. Every week, it seemed, the Buckingham mother of four found herself talking to people who had lost their jobs. Many of them, immigrants who had worked in hospitality, were struggling to make ends meet without transportation, health insurance, child care or state-issued identification.
When one young mother desperate for food and diapers asked for help, Ventura started giving her things from her own home. Then Ventura stumbled upon the Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through Covid-19 Facebook group, which was “like finding the light,” she says. She began posting requests for much-needed items, like clothes and high chairs.
Soon, others were coming to Ventura for assistance. She started building a master list of names and contacts—what is now a WhatsApp group of more than 100 families in need. To address food insecurity, she forged a connection with the Falls Church-based Iglesia Nueva Vida D.C., which now delivers donations of groceries every Friday to the Buckingham neighborhood.
In April, Ventura started an Amazon Wish List for donations, as well as the Buckingham Mutual Aid Facebook group. Donated supplies have poured in, cluttering up her apartment. She says it’s all worth it. “I’ve been through [hardships and I know] something about having nothing,” says the 12-year Arlington resident, who is originally from El Salvador. “That’s why I have the feeling to help [others] now. I want to help my people here.”
Ventura and her eldest daughter are now forming a nonprofit to help Spanish-speaking immigrants find resources, learn useful skills and meet new people.