Local social-justice organizations see surge of volunteers and money after Trump election
Some St. Louisans who are upset with the outcome of the presidential election are putting their money — and their time — where their mouths are.
Following the victory of Republican president-elect Donald Trump, they’re plan to donate to local social-justice organizations — and volunteer.
The local Diversity Awareness Partnership, for example, noticed an immediate effect when it held its annual fundraising dinner the night after the election. The education group took in $12,000— twice as much as last year — and signed up 100 first-time volunteers for its Connect program, rather than the usual 10 to 15.
Banking executive Bill Forsythe of St. Charles said volunteered with DAP to widen his circle.
“I grew up in a middle-class family, hung around mostly white, Caucasian people,” Forsythe said. “I think that this DAP Connect program is going to afford me and other members of the program the opportunity to more regularly be around people from a wide variety and diverse backgrounds.”
DAP executive director Reena Hajat Carroll said Forythe’s motives are typical.
“People are looking for a community that values diversity and inclusion,” Carroll said.
‘Everybody should be concerned’
Since the Nov. 8 election, 450 people have signed up with the ACLU of Missouri. That’s an increase of 250 percent, given that the organization would typically have fewer than two dozen people volunteer during a two-week period, according to lead organizer Mustafa Abdullah.
“[It’s] pretty crazy,” Abdullah said.
Joe Fetter of south St. Louis is among those who contacted the ACLU after Trump won the presidency. He was stunned when the outcome became clear.
“I just felt completely deflated, and also, I guess, in shock,” Fetter said.
Fetter said he wants to help immigrants, people of color, women and Muslims — people he believes are vulnerable under a Trump administration.
“As a white male, I’m not a member of any of these groups” Fetter said. “But I think everybody should be concerned when the rights and the safety of fellow citizens are potentially at risk.”
Fetter, who works with a local nonprofit, will help the ACLU manage its new cadre of volunteers as they assist with things like organizing community events and lobbying state legislators.
The regional Anti-Defamation League is also drawing more volunteers. Director Karen Aroesty said donations are up by 50 percent, largely because of new donors.
“They need to have a role to play in feeling like they’re doing something good for the community,” Aroesty said.
As Joe Fetter gears up to volunteer with the ACLU, he hopes individual acts can add up to big change.
“Hopefully, there’s sort of a collective impact where a lot of people are working toward the same goal,” Fetter said.
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