Quarantine Chronicles: Raine

WHILE CIVVIES IS closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, its store manager, Raine, is working hard to make sure that the vulnerable in our community have access to the resources they need.

Raine and a group of volunteers will help distribute supplies, offer a place for recovering individuals to stay, and assist individuals in checking their temperatures and blood oxygen levels.

This is Raine’s Quarantine Chronicle.

Let’s talk about the decision to temporarily turn Civvies into a resource center.

I feel like every time something like this happens—hurricanes, St. Patrick’s Day with Mike Pence being here—this space is super useful for having a centralized location where people can meet to work on stuff. Anytime something is happening, we really try to figure out the best way to adapt to that.

It’s very obvious that Savannah, because we’re an overflow location for a lot of the surrounding counties, if something were to get really bad, the hospitals would be filled. But then additionally, which is something I don’t think a lot of people consider, people who don’t have the right documents can’t get access to things like Medicaid, so going to the hospital is not going to happen for those reasons. It’s also not going to happen because of so many sociopolitical things that surround going to an environment like that, which, for a lot of people, that’s something they’ve never had to consider.

As we’ve been developing this, we’ve spoken to local professionals, some of whom have been like, “Oh, we don’t need this at all, the hospitals are fine.” But as downtown Savannah people know, there’s a lot of people who just can’t get there. There are so many reasons that feed into why people might want to look for help from people who are not medical professionals for resources.

What are supplies you need the most?

I would say the things we need the most are bedding for twin beds, blow-up mattresses, and painter’s drop cloth, the plastic kind you can get at Home Depot, and masking tape. Those are probably the biggest things because we have to section off a lot of the area, and we have enough for some of it, but we need a little bit more.

In doing this, we know that it might not end up being a necessity. We’re going to put up signs and try and tell as many people as possible in the next week. But I think it’s important at least to be able to get better at our readiness for events like this, because they’re only going to happen more often.

A lot of people might be like, “Oh, you’re stockpiling supplies from medical professionals who need them.” We’re going to try and put them to use, and obviously they’ll be distributed no matter what. And if they don’t get used this time around, there are so many other reasons why we can distribute them.

One thing I want to make really clear is that we are not administering anything. We are not providing care, we’re not a clinic. We are a resource center and we are going to be distributing stuff. We are going to be offering people a place to stay if they are receiving support.

We’re checking someone’s temperature and telling them they have a 102 degree fever and that they actually are chill, versus it’s 104 and they need to go to the hospital, in which case they might not have done that because they didn’t know how to ask.

Are you worried about getting the virus yourself?

I feel like the past couple of times I’ve attempted to work on mutual aid things—the hurricanes, I feel, is the best example I can refer to. A lot of people left because they felt like they were in danger and people’s level of privilege impacts their ability to act on things like that.

So the past hurricanes, people bring us supplies, we help distribute them to our neighborhood, we stay around in case shit gets really rough. But there are always people who are like, “Well, aren’t you worried about your house flooding?” It’s like, yeah, of course, but there are a lot of people who have the same fear who can’t act on it. You have to be able to take risks to help other people.

We’re going to be quarantining ourselves probably at the store so we’re not fucking up our housing, the people we live with, because a lot of the people who are going to be helping directly live with three, four, five other people.

It’s going to be increasingly more important, and our understanding of what it means to make sacrifices is vastly different than a lot of other people’s. Choosing to do things like this will encourage other people to acknowledge that it actually is important and isn’t just unnecessarily preemptive, that these communities do actually exist.

In the past, have you seen any reactions of people want to start helping others?

I wouldn’t necessarily centralize that answer to myself. In general, I feel like a lot of the work my peers do is what inspires me to do things, so I can only imagine there are people who are like, “Oh, right, I can engage with this, I don’t have to be acting out of fear.”
As far as me individually, I don’t know. As I’m sure you can imagine, enough people reach out and say, “Hey, you’re an encouraging person, the work you do is important,” blah blah blah. But that just doesn’t necessarily speak to your question the same way as me acknowledging all the people who have inspired me to do that.

Who are some people who have inspired you in this way?

I know the Deep Center acted really immediately by making a reference guide or people and started corroborating information in our community specifically. I’d say that was inspiring for me on acting on this.

The mayor’s actions as far as being clear and seeming to not just listen to the state stuff about making decisions is great. Obviously we can all get a good laugh at that drone moment and then quiver in our boots about when they strap a gun on that thing.

There are so many amazing anarchist groups I won’t necessarily name in a lot of southern and eastern cities that I have seen doing mutual aid work. I feel like everyone’s doing a pretty good job, except the people who are trying to make people be productive.

Why is creating this resource center so important?

Part of what’s happening in society is us needing to transition to alternate modes of support and those things have to be sustainable. The ongoing joke with queers supporting each other is just them sending the same $20 over Venmo. That’s not cutting it. We need more sustainable things.

Designing something like this is maybe not a long-term solution, but it does move towards alternative kinds of support. I’m sure that anybody living in America today can argue that the kinds of support they’re getting for the society they live in don’t feel holistic, and they don’t feel genuine, and they certainly don’t feel like distributed in a way that makes any sense, which is why you have to do stuff like this, because there are a lot of people who just won’t get the resources otherwise.

It’s funny, because what it boils down to is people can’t imagine that someone would need a free space while they can use someone’s thermometer. Shit like that is what people really, at the end of the day, can’t wrap their minds around, and that’s its own problem.

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