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As long as people are in need, we’ll be advocating for resources to meet their needs.

Mano a Mano

Social service provider Mano a Mano knew that COVID-19 would create tremendous needs for Lake County immigrant communities that would not be met by the government response. So, they created a Tanda—an emergency community fund—to help individuals pay for food and urgent medical care. More than $400,000 has been raised to help those who often have no other option for support.

It’s heartbreaking to witness the fear and anxiety of our immigrant neighbors. But we’ve built trust and solidarity with our community. Now more than ever, they know they can count on us. They are not alone.” -Megan McKenna, Director of Strategy & Development

A TANDA is common in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America and is like a giving circle among friends. It’s a way for everyone in the community to help and be helped.

Mano a Mano uses this concept to reach families who, although they pay taxes, may not have the safety nets like health insurance—due to job loss and/or immigration status—available to others.

The organization's straightforward phone screening questions are:

  • Do you live in Lake or McHenry County? If YES —

  • Did you lose your job or have your hours reduced due to COVID-19? If YES —

  • Do you qualify for unemployment? If NO — you get a TANDA appointment. If YES — A staff member helps you with your unemployment insurance application and other resources or gives referrals for other agencies.

For individuals who report being COVID-positive, Mano a Mano’s team of Community Health Workers follow up by phone to talk about testing, treatment, and how to take care of oneself and family members.

Then, individuals are asked to fill out a one-time application for funds for a month to support their urgent food and medical needs. Over four months, Mano a Mano’s Tanda has helped 1,142 families in Lake and McHenry Counties.

With over two decades of service, Mano a Mano works to empower immigrant families in Lake County to become full participants in American life. They provide immigration legal services, connect families to health care resources, run GED and English Language classes, and much more.

Pictured: Mana a Mano staff member Erika Martinez



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