Astoria resident Elizabeth Satterlee Ersenkal was one of those local activists. She began fundraising for a new organization, Immigrant Families Together, which is dedicated to reuniting and supporting immigrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Though she did not have a background as a social worker, Ersenkal wanted to figure out how to be of service.
“What they really needed was spreading awareness of what was going on,” she said. “And money.”
Ersenkal’s kids are creative and like to make things. In the past, they sold the items they made at kids craft markets and donated much of the proceeds to charity.
The Astoria activist and her children decided to set up an online Etsy market, where kids all over the world could sell their crafts. All of the money went to Immigrant Families Together.
“To me, it was really important to get children involved,” Ersenkal said. “Giving them outlets to help is a good way to ease anxiety about how to help. It’s definitely a way to process issues.”
Ersenkal’s efforts have raised about $10,000 for the nonprofit group. Her actions also spread the message that every person can do something to help, even kids.
“It may seem small in the moment, but all together it’s not small,” she said. “Just the act of helping changes your perception of what’s going on.
“You never know who’s watching,” Ersenkal added. “It’s a chain reaction of other people stepping up.”
Recently, Ersenkal collected donations from her co-op community to support frontline workers battling the COVID-19 crisis. She raised $1,000 in just over a day.
“It’s the least we can all do,” she said. “This was sort of a no-brainer.”