(By Sara J. Benincasa, crossposted from Medium)

What to Do About Charlottesville

Help folks targeted by those who would erase them

When I feel hopeless and impotent, the quickest cure is to be of service in some way. When I read the news of the disgusting (and wholly unsurprising, for those who’ve been following along at home) racist march in Charlottesville, I wanted to know how I could help.

Well, first I got angry.

And I said some unkind things.

(I honestly feel pretty okay about most of those things.)

But then I remembered the other part, the part where I feel better when I do something. Maybe it’s selfish in a sense, but if it helps folks, maybe it’s the good kind of selfish. Anyway, some simple Google searching led me to write Twitter thread on local nonprofits (you can find it here.) But since not everybody is on Twitter, I figured I’d write a quick blog post that you can share on FB, via email, or however you like. Here are some places that would likely be grateful for your support during this troubling time (and, to be honest, at any time — nonprofits can usually use the help.)

Disclaimer: I don’t work for any of these organizations and I’ve never worked with them. But I found some good information online that pointed to them as important pillars of the community (and a few suggestions came through after I wrote my original thread), so I’m sharing them here. Hope you’ll find something that appeals to you. Even a little bit of money helps.

NAACP Albemarle-Charlottesville (Branch 7057) merged two NAACP branches in 2001. The Albemarle branch was founded in 1953 and the Charlottesville branch in 1947.

Black Student Alliance at UVA is doing the work (consider sharing some kind words on Twitter, too.)

Charlottesville Pride is an LGBTQ organization that runs a variety of programs and events in Charlottesville.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic serves various communities, Charlottesville among them.

National Organization for Women, Charlottesville chapter seeks to empower women in Charlottesville and beyond.

Meals on Wheels of Charlottesville serves nutritious meals to many individuals, particularly homebound seniors who may have no other visitors.

African American Teaching Fellows is an organization working to increase diversity among teaching staff in a system where only 10% of educators are African-America.

Brody Jewish Center of the University of Virginia is the Hillel branch at UVA (and here’s a good primer on the long history of the Jewish community in Charlottesville, thanks to the Institute of Southern Jewish Life).

Congregation Beth Israel is the only synagogue in Albemarle County. Drop them a kind email and tell them you’d like to donate.

IMPACT Charlottesville is an interfaith organization working for social justice.

The Women’s Initiative provides mental healthcare to women regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

The Arc of the Piedmont helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Virginia Centers for Independent Living comprise an organization that helps adults with disabilities to lead independent lives as full members of their communities.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge provides mentorship to young people in the Charlottesville area.

Piedmont Housing Alliance helps diverse clientele in the Charlottesville area access affordable housing and attain financial solubility and independence.

Legal Aid Justice Center provides legal assistance to low-income individuals and seeks equal justice for all who live in Virginia.

Beloved Community Charlottesville specifically seeks to meet hatred with love in a very creative way.

The Haven provides respite and care for homeless folks in downtown Charlottesville.

Now, Virginia is a diverse and beautiful state. (My main problem with Virginia is that it takes so damn long to drive through, but otherwise, I’m a fan.) The people who marched the other night don’t represent all Virginians, or even most Virginians. (And yeah, some of them were from out of state, but I’m sure plenty of ’em were from in-state. That’s not my point here.) There are a lot of good people in Virginia, and many of them benefit from, work for, volunteer with, or donate to the organizations listed above.

I leave you with this: VA is the birthplace of one @MissyElliott. That alone is evidence the place can yield greatness. Don’t lose hope just because some people are the worst. Some people are the best, too. The rest of us are somewhere in between, but we keep striving for better. Charitable acts are one way to help us get there.