As I’m trying to write an introductory post for this initiative, I’m really struck by how quickly we have been able to move and effectively organize. It’s been less than 72 hours since the idea of a solidarity fund first came up in a Zoom discussion among concerned WMU faculty members on Sunday night, March 22nd. On Monday, we drafted bylaws and we met again, this time including some staff members. On Tuesday, we secured board members to incorporate this organization, reached out to senior WMU administration to let them know what we were up to and settle on a name that makes it clear that this is FOR the WMU community but not controlled by WMU in any way, developed an application form, and held yet another meeting, this time including a number of student workers and additional staff members. Today (Wednesday), we incorporated, got our federal EIN for banking purposes, and filed a 1023-EZ with the IRS so we can be recognized as a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3, which means donations will be tax deductible. Tomorrow, I have an appointment set for noon at a local branch of PNC Bank (who have been insanely helpful, btw) to establish our checking and merchant accounts and get that ‘donate’ button working.
The outpouring of love and support evidenced by local mutual aid groups, sewing efforts, and GoFundMe drives has been heartwarming. We hope that the WMU and broader Kalamazoo communities will continue to open their hearts, and especially their wallets, to help out the numerous student workers and staff members who have found themselves suddenly with severely reduced hours or no job at all. We’ll be sharing stories from those affected, and updating the public with our progress in providing aid frequently.