The Public Administration Graduate Student Association (PAGSA) at The University of New Mexico isn’t letting COVID stop them from finding ways to support the Albuquerque community.
“This academic year has no doubt presented us all with unprecedented challenges,” said Kelly Kenneth, president of UNM PAGSA. “So, PAGSA’s Executive Board wanted to focus on ‘building community virtually during these not-so-normal times’ as the theme of 2020-2021 academic year.”
In Fall of 2020, that idea blossomed into a full-blown food and resource donation campaign. “PAGSA Gives Back” held its first fundraiser between December and January, raising $233 for Albuquerque Mutual Aid, along with collecting a plethora of donations.
“One of the reasons we selected ABQ Mutual Aid as the organization we wanted to work with is because they truly are an organization for all people from all walks of life,” Kenneth explained.
Albuquerque Mutual Aid began in March 2020. The group brings together local individuals, organizations and community partners to help those impacted by the pandemic. In less than 200 days since launching, ABQ Mutual Aid has helped more than 31,000 individuals in the Albuquerque area by delivering care packages and assistance.
“Many organizations often can serve only a portion of the population due to funding restrictions. Albuquerque Mutual Aid is different in that it is community members collaborating together in order to serve our most vulnerable members,” Kenneth said. “They don’t ask for things like proof of citizenship or income which can be a barrier to certain community members who need help right away.”
When they first envisioned “PAGSA Gives Back” the student executive board intended on it being a standalone event. But the success of the initial resource drive, and the continuation of the pandemic and its hardships, is inspiring UNM PAGSA to continue its efforts. This February the group is hosting a Valentine’s themed resource and food drive called “Spread the love with PAGSA Gives Back.” The hope is to continue capitalizing on the momentum of the first event and engaging the School of Public Administration (SPA) students, faculty and others in supporting their fellow community members.
“We are thankful for all the donations we received and for the generosity to the community of Albuquerque. We know that this year has been difficult for many of our community members, including our SPA family, but we know that together we will make it through this pandemic stronger and more resilient than before,” Kenneth concluded.
Those interested in volunteering or donating to the group can check out upcoming events on Instagram (@PAGSA_UNM), Twitter (@UNM_PAGSA), Facebook (@UNMPAGSA), or email questions to email@example.com.
2020-2021 Public Administration Graduate Student Association Executive Board
- Kelly Kenneth, President
- Ghada Zribi, Vice President
- David C. Saavedra, Secretary
- Nicholas Maestas, GPSA Representative
- Feliz Baca, Public Relations/Event Planner