Monday, June 29, 2020

Paleteros and Charitable Support

6237676406_59c2565f3a_wThis morning, my wife read  the heartwarming story of a family that bought out a Chicago paletero's ice cream on Father's Day so that he could spend the day with his family. Rosaria Del Real immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s from Zacatecas, Mexico, working various jobs until a couple weeks ago when he hurt himself and couldn't do carpentry anymore. At that point he started selling paletas to earn money.

The family that bought his paletas started a GoFundMe to help him retire; as of right now, it has raised a little over $62,500 for him. 

I said up front that this is a heartwarming story. And in a way it is. But it also strikes me as a deeply troubling indictment of our current system. As much as I love paletas, becoming a paletero shouldn't be a retirement plan, and GoFundMe shouldn't be our social safety net.

And they don't have to be. In the first instance, government can provide a social safety net. And charities can supplement (or administer) that safety net. This morning I also read this story about California's $75 million Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants.

While the state is providing the aid, it has engaged 12 nonprofit organizations throughout the state to process applications and distribute the money. That strikes me as an innovative and exciting partnership between the government and the nonprofit sector, one that is more sustainable and more systemically useful than relying on GoFundMe.

Samuel D. Brunson

Image: Michelle, Priscilla y el paletero, by Gabriel. CC BY 2.0.

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