BAM Onboarding Kit Kit de incorporación
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Welcome to Bushwick Ayuda Mutua. This document outlines in detail how BAM operates and an overview of each of the different working groups.

We are a mutual aid coalition working to maintain and expand a solidarity economy in Bushwick by building structures that benefit our community. BAM provides access to food, essential goods, and social services via direct fundraising and partner groups.

As a fully volunteer-run org we are trusting each other to take the initiative to get involved and be accountable to each other. We encourage you to be collaborative and proactive as we work to expand and grow as a collective.

To start, we recommend joining the volunteer Signal chat so that you can start to get familiar with the range of things we discuss as a group. Feel free to email one of the coordinators on your onboarding email so that you can be added.

We host bi-monthly food, essential goods, and clothing distros at Mayday space. Attending a distro is a great way to get familiar with the type of work we do. Everyone is welcome to attend our in-person events. You can see all upcoming events on our calendar here.

Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide how involved they want to be. We encourage you to be curious and ask questions to better understand the specifics of any working group(s) you want to contribute to.

Thanks for being here!

Covered in this document are:

  • How we are structured
  • How we communicate
  • Our decision making strategies
  • Discretionary spending protocols
  • Legal and financial historical context
  • A rough map of the projects & point people within BAM
  • Brief notes on community resources
  • Notes on volunteer expectations and conflict resolution
  • What equity looks like for those involved
By participating as a volunteer with BAM, you agree to this operating document and to engage with our guiding principles in mind.

Table of Contents

  1. How BAM is Structured
  2. How we Communicate within BAM
  3. Decision Making Strategies
  4. Discretionary Spending Protocols
    1. Operations Spending
    2. Food Spending
    3. Essential Goods Spending
    4. Social Services Spending
  5. Legal & Financial Historical Context
  6. Projects & Point Roles at BAM
    1. Point Roles
    2. Coalition Partners
  7. Notes on Community Resources
    1. Medical Assistance / 911 for Volunteers & Community Members Alike
    2. Food, Essential Goods, & Social Services Access
      1. Food Pantries
      2. Essential Goods
      3. Social Services
  8. Volunteer Expectations & Conflict Resolution
    1. BAM Guiding Principles
    2. BAM Participation Expectations / Who is a BAM Member?
    3. BAM Community Expectations
      1. Translation Practices
      2. Delegation in Resistance to Burn Out
    4. Internal Conflict Resolution
    5. External Conflict Resolution
    6. Leaving BAM as an Individual Volunteer
      1. Leave of Absence / Taking Breaks
      2. Member-Initiated Departure
      3. Being Asked to Leave BAM Indefinitely
  9. BAM Volunteer Equity

1. How BAM is Structured

BAM operates as a coalition of many different community partners maintaining a framework with which we can support each other’s basic needs, making social movement work more accessible to all. This includes the following areas:

  • Food: primarily groceries as of Spring 2023
  • Essential Goods (EG): including toiletries, kitchen supplies, and furniture
  • Social Services: currently maintains group chat only, no docs

An Operations team helps steer the project at large, and includes Community Outreach, Distro Logistics, Tech, Social Media, Finance, Community Building, and Fundraising. More information on what each team’s tasks look like can be found here. Below are various reference and process docs for each:

2. How we Communicate within BAM

As of Spring 2023, BAM maintains various platforms in which community members communicate:

  • in person at bimonthly distros and town halls
  • over email for newsletter blasts
  • Within Airtable which is where our database lives
  • WhatsApp thread
  • via Google Calendar and Google Docs (using/ including account) for notes on scheduling and established processes
  • Via our website to get involved, donate, or request support
  • Via Instagram and Twitter for upcoming event or newsblasts
  • for real time organizing, over Signal

While nobody here is going to tell anyone what apps they "need" or "have to" download, we want to manage expectations that those working together with BAM have committed to the ways in which we operate at large dictated in this document, and have at least a rough awareness of what’s happening in the project at large: eg, knowing that BAM has a furniture delivery team, or how to start your own initiative in an area of need - this very document serves to fill you in on the projects that make up BAM and who helps with what.

A note on staying plugged in: it can be argued that living in New York is a social condition in and of itself. Life can get overwhelming, and in trying to cope, group chats get muted, workspace apps get ignored, and the feeling of being disconnected starts to seep in. To maintain responsible two way communication, it is important to make this known to the working groups you participate in when you are feeling this way! We are a community in and of ourselves; we help and support each other here, and what we are doing takes a village.

For all members : all volunteers are asked to first fill out our volunteer form before being added to or joining any group chats. Once the volunteer form has been filled out, an email [and text] will be sent to join the Signal volunteer chat. When joining the Volunteer Chat, please introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and the working groups you indicated in the volunteer form you are interested in; working groups operate in separate chats so you will need to be added to those. Many of us include our pronouns in our Signal handle as well.

    SIGNAL: BAM operates and organizes primarily via group chats on Signal.
  • For those unfamiliar with Signal: WhatsApp licenses their encryption protocol from Signal, except because they are owned by Facebook and provide an option for users to report abuse of WhatsApp’s Terms of Service, WhatsApp does employ an option to decrypt whatever you report to them - which means they have the means to decrypt their encryption. Signal does not provide oversight to this end, and gives full autonomy to the user - even in the double-edged sword case of interpersonal problems.
  • A note on end to end encryption - if you go on vacation or hiatus and you delete your Signal app from your phone, you are deleting the only comprehensive history of your messages; you cannot get them back on that device. Since it’s encrypted end to end, Signal does not have a copy of your chat history, and you will not have access to chat history prior to when you reactivate Signal on your new device. Be mindful of this as many conversations and decisions may be had that won’t be in your chat history if you delete it.
  • BAM utilizes the following Signal threads, depending on what area you would like to be involved in:
    • BAM Logistica de Distribuciones
    • BAM Voluntaries
    • BAM Social Team
    • Bam Llamadores
    • BAM Furniture Coordination
    • BAM Distro Check-In Crew
    • BAM Tech
    • BAM Finance
    • BAM Social Services Team
    • Bushwick Ayuda Mutua


    GOOGLE DRIVE: All important documents are kept here, divided up by project area. Google Drive access is maintained and shared with active organizers.

    GOOGLE CALENDAR: All BAM events - whether distros, town halls, or fundraisers - appear on this calendar, and anyone can add this calendar to their personal devices so they have a sense of which events are confirmed for when and where, and which are still being planned/proposed. If an event date is on HOLD and not confirmed, event titles will start with the prefix "HOLD:" before the proposed event's title.

  • Website was written by volunteers and is hosted on our Github
  • Domain name is hosted by
  • If you want to help with maintaining our website, request to be added to BAM Tech Thread

    EMAIL LISTSERV: As of Spring 2023, BAM uses listmonk listserv to send email updates out to volunteers and families alike.

  • (in person) Bi-Monthly BAM distros @ Mayday Space
  • (in person) Monthly Clothing distros @ Mil Mundos
  • (in person) Periodic BAM Fundraisers
  • (hybrid, in person and virtual) Monthly BAM Town Halls
  • (virtual) Monthly Volunteer Onboarding
  • (virtual) Food Group Meetings

3. Decision Making Strategies

Decision making, whether it be on the chat or in-person, within a working group or at a forum where representatives from all of BAM are present, are generally made with the following framework:

  1. an idea is had
  2. a proposal is made
  3. feedback is incorporated
  4. after assessing the resources & amount of people available to support
  5. a decision is made

Further details can be found here. Some additional notes:

  • Absent votes in a decision being made are not counted. If you missed a vote and do not agree with the decision made, please flag immediately to the working group or volunteer that raised it
  • Dissenting votes in a decision being made are considered, and a final decision is not made until consent is reached
  • Consensus vs Consent. Consensus is when everyone agrees on the decision (ideal but not necessary). Consent means that no one is actively against the decision. If everyone consents to a decision, they are willing to participate in moving forward with the decision
  • BAM is too large of a group, made of various teams, for us to reasonably operate by consensus. However, an effort is made to include multiple communication platforms when incorporating feedback. All decisions that will impact the entire BAM community (i.e., decisions about money, expanding volunteer capacity, etc.) must be presented in the Volunteer chat, town hall, and at distributions to show they are operating in good faith when making decisions on behalf of BAM
  • Working groups can make their own decisions internally. There is an expectation that updates about said decisions are shared with the larger BAM community via Volunteer chat, distros, and town halls
  • Decisions do have to be made before any sense of quorum is reached to meet deadlines and be respectful of the urgency of folks' help requests.
  • We are mindful of certain access barriers, including:
    • Language differences & varying levels of fluency
    • Not everyone has a personal device on which they can participate via Signal
    • Not everyone can meet in person or via video call if needed

Any decision that a team member knows the rest of the crew would want input on necessitates a conversation with the crew.

Knowing something like this would be via proactively being a part of the project and community, and checking in regularly with your team.

Assume that people have good intentions in mind and try to be kind. Everyone can feel defensive at times but it is helpful in getting your point across and avoiding further conflict to be mindful that the effect goes beyond intent. Even as the language of this document evolves, these points stand.

4. Discretionary Spending Protocols

4.1 Operations Spending

BAM is fiscally sponsored by Open Collective (OC), which also hosts transparent records of all of our donations and expenses.

Within the BAM Operations working groups, BAM's Finance Team maintains a monthly budget and shares out budget summaries on a monthly basis to the Volunteer chat and town hall.

Below is a summary of BAM's pre-approved discretionary spending protocols & categories. Invoice or Reimbursement requests for pre-approved spending can be made here with an existing OC account. Operational expenses include:

  • Volunteer Meals
  • Distro Supplies
  • Mayday Space Rental
  • U-Haul
  • Rideshare
  • Zapier
  • BK Rot Composting
  • Twilio
  • Squarespace
  • Equipment (eg computers, depreciable assets)
  • Printing

4.2 Food Spending

  • Mr. Kiwi
  • Western Beef / Dry Goods
  • Star Route Farms
  • Eggs

4.3 Essential Goods Spending

  • Soap
  • Baby Diapers
  • Pads
  • Toothpaste
  • Kitchen Supplies
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Baby Formula
  • School Supplies

4.4 Social Services Spending

As of Spring 2023, Social Services operates on a $0 budget.

Currently, items we are generally able to secure at no cost in amounts that match need are: clothes, masks, tampons. We do not approve expenses for these items without prior discussion.

BAM b egan as a response to the pandemic. Neighbors organized to make sure their neighbors were receiving groceries and toiletries. Fundraising soon made it possible to run at least one grocery and toiletries distro per week from August 2020- August 2021. And at least one furniture distro per month in that time period. Every year BAM's goals have changed as the volunteers within BAM have changed. For the first 1- 2 years, it was important for us to get to a point where we could sustain weekly distros but as vaccines became widely available and lockdowns were lifted, our volunteer capacity lessened so our goals shifted. We then moved towards a goal of creating distros that were sustainable.

As this was the case, communicating in-person was not as accessible. The main formats for people to contact us and let us know they required assistance at that time was through two forms: A Google Voice phone number (currently not being used) and an Assistance Request Form (now our primary intake method). Therefore, the only way a community member can communicate their needs to us in a way that makes us accountable for them is through the intake form. We use our coalition to address the needs solicited in the form. And make sure people know that this is our primary form of communication.

6. Projects & Point Roles at BAM

6.1 Point Roles


6.2 Coalition Partners

  • Mil Mundos en Común: manages Essential Goods coalition, stores essential goods, runs monthly clothing distros
  • Mayday Space: hosts bi-monthly essential goods/ clothing distros & resource fairs at 176 St Nicholas Ave, 2nd and 3rd floor
  • Iglesia de la Santa Cruz/ Bushwick Abbey: hosts bi-monthly food distros at 176 St Nicholas Ave, 1st floor
  • Star Route Farms: local farm food source for distros
  • Beacon's Closet Bushwick: clothing donor for monthly EG distro at Mayday
  • Stems Brooklyn: essential goods drives pre-monthly distro
  • MetroPlus: medical health insurance enrollment

7. Notes on Community Resources

7.1 Medical Assistance / 911 for Volunteers & Community Members Alike

At any BAM event, 911 is always who you want to call in case of a medical emergency. Some notes on 911 calls in NYC:

  • Every ambulance is followed by / accompanied by NYPD
  • Ambulances can only bill once the ride is accepted. If the ambulance arrives and does not take a patient, they cannot bill.

If there is a situation that requires medical attention, but the person requiring medical attention feels it is not an emergency, rideshare (Uber/Lyft) services and urgent care centers can be considered as alternatives in regards to both cost and the risk of I.C.E. potentially getting involved.

Go-to Urgent Care centers in our neighborhood include:

  • Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, 55-05 Myrtle Ave
  • CityMD Bushwick Urgent Care, 399 Knickerbocker Ave
  • ModernMD Urgent Care - Bushwick, 366 Knickerbocker Ave
  • Doral

Emergency Rooms in Bushwick include:

7.2 Food, Essential Goods, & Social Services Access

7.2.1 Food Pantries


7.2.2 Essential Goods


7.2.3 Social Services


8. Volunteer Expectations & Conflict Resolution

8.1 BAM Guiding Principles

Responsive and adaptable - We commit to being continuously open to feedback from our community and constantly evolving to better meet its needs.

Democratically-run - Decentralized, horizontal model where decision-making is collective.

Inclusion, diversity and anti-discrimination - We are anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-xenophobic, anti-ageist, anti-classist, and anti-fatphobic. Our efforts are towards autonomy and accessibility, and our priority is providing accessibility to those left furthest from it. We stand with the Black community of Bushwick and those working towards police abolition.

Culturally-sensitive - We believe that no one is illegal on stolen land. This is a space where all languages, sexual orientation, genders, and races should have a voice.

Equity - We believe in not just equality, but EQUITY. We thoughtfully uplift the voices that need to be heard, in place of the ones often and only heard.

8.2 BAM Participation Expectations / Who is a BAM Member?

THERE IS NO HIERARCHY within BAM but there are different levels of participation that each member can tap into, depending on their capacity and availability. If you want to participate in a way that is not listed below, please mention it in the volunteer form, at a town hall or distro, and/or in the Volunteer chat. The following are the roles and expectations of BAM members we have mapped out so far:

    Donor or Social Media post-sharing
  • Criteria: Has given at least 1 donation (including set up a fundraiser that benefited BAM) and/or has shared at least 1 social media post
  • Expectation(s): virtually nothing but perhaps spreading the word
  • Decision-making status: Does not automatically have decision-making votes but whose opinion is considered
    Coalition Partner
  • Criteria: A group or person that has provided in-kind donations to BAM and/or has participated in a resource fair at a distro and/or has co-organized a distro to support BAM community members
  • Expectation(s): respond to BAM communications
  • Decision-making status: Does not automatically have decision-making votes but whose opinion is considered
    Community Member
  • Criteria: A person who lives in Bushwick/ Ridgewood & would want to participate in BAM distros and/or has filled out an Assistance Request intake form and/or has attended distro with/ without an appointment and/or has attended a town hall
  • Expectation(s): Fill out the Assistance Request intake form and/or join a town hall
  • Decision-making status: has decision-making votes
    One Time Volunteer
  • Criteria: A person who has participated at a BAM event at least once and is not on the Signal chat or does not regularly attend distros or town halls
  • Expectation(s): Fill out the volunteer form
  • Decision-making status: Does not automatically have decision-making votes but whose opinion is considered
    Prospective Volunteer / Inactive Volunteer
  • Criteria: A person who has indicated interest in volunteering with BAM but is not currently active in the Signal chat, or participating in distros/ town halls
  • Expectation(s): Fill out the volunteer form, remove yourself from any chat you are not participating in/ have no intention of participating in
  • Decision-making status: Does not automatically have decision-making votes but whose opinion is considered
  • Criteria: A person who (a) has volunteered remotely via BAM working group chats or in-person at a BAM event and/or (b) has been added to the Signal/WhatsApp channel and/or (c) has attended a Volunteer Onboarding
  • Expectation(s): (1) Fill out the volunteer form, (2) read this onboarding document and attend 1 monthly onboarding event, (3) understand Airtable and be partly responsible for fulfilling community requests in a timely manner, (4) meaningfully and regularly participate in BAM decision-making through (a) the Volunteer chat on Signal, (b) at distro pre-meeting (c) town halls, and (5) be partly responsible for onboarding newer BAM volunteers
  • Decision-making status: has decision-making votes
  • Criteria: See volunteer criteria plus is a person who (a) builds volunteer capacity within BAM and/or (b) develops alternatives to org processes and/or (c) facilitates decision-making
  • Expectation(s): See volunteer expectations plus (a) takes responsibility over making sure the volunteer roles are filled for a BAM event and/or (b) creates documentation
  • Decision-making status: has decision-making votes
    BAM-wide organizer
  • Criteria: See organizer criteria plus is a person who (a) facilitates decision-making across the coalition (via chat and in-person) and/or (b) develops alternatives to org processes and/or (c) facilitates decision-making
  • Expectation(s): See organizer expectations plus edits this document
  • Decision-making status: has decision-making votes

8.3 BAM Community Expectations

8.3.1 Translation Practices

  • Have grace and patience! We value fairness of language, and this is a lot of practice in (imperfectly) elevating/ pointing out the need to communicate bilingually (English/ Spanish). If someone is not communicating bilingually or is not translating/ interpreting, please kindly remind them of this practice.
  • In person, please pause periodically if you’re going to speak for more than 15-30 seconds at a time OR summarize when you're done speaking.
  • In person, speak clearly and slowly so that we can capture as much of the message as possible.
  • In person, please leave spaces for translation when responding.

8.3.2 Delegation in Resistance to Burnout


8.4 Internal Conflict Resolution

Nobody on this team is under any pretense that we aren't going to need to address some sort of internal conflict at some point. It's a fact of life and one of the realities of community; resolving that conflict and having proper tools to do so reinforces autonomy and makes us all stronger.

Some do this sort of thing better one-on-one. Some do this better as a group. Some are averse to the other. Please keep interpersonal conflict outside of group chats and follow up in person.

All BAM members are encouraged to resolve problems and differences, work related or otherwise, with each other. Below are some resources for what we would consider mission-aligned methods of conflict resolution.

If a BAM member does not feel safe resolving this conflict with this person, they are welcome to reach out to XYZ mediation group.

8.5 External Conflict Resolution

If there is a complaint or criticism from an outside source, a group or person who is not a member of BAM (please see BAM Participation Expectations / Who Is A BAM Member? for more info), please make sure to flag to the rest of the group in the Volunteer Chat, and in-person either at town hall or distro.

In the meantime, feel free to respond with something like, "Thank you for voicing your concern. We are a mutual aid group that operates with hundreds of volunteers and while we want to be accountable for our actions/ words, we also want to be sure that we are responding to concerns in a way that is representative of the members of BAM. We will respond ASAP."

8.6 Leaving BAM as an Individual Volunteer

8.6.1 Leave of Absence / Taking Breaks

There will be times when you will need to take breaks from participating in BAM. This is something we all have to do from time to time to sustain our stewardship of BAM long-term. Please let comrades know if you begin feeling overwhelmed as soon as you start to feel burn-out approaching. And collaborate on having your responsibilities covered in your absence at least one week before leave. This includes project management, documentation, relationships to coalition partners, etc.

Nobody's individual participation in BAM should be so considerable in scope that it cannot be fully delegated to other volunteers. If this does happen, however, and nobody has volunteered to cover your roles in your time away, please immediately send a reminder to the group of the potential risks of you taking time off without coverage at least one week before your leave.

8.6.2 Member-Initiated Departure

If you need to leave BAM for any reason, please mention your plans to leave in the working groups at least one week prior to your departure.

If you are leaving because of unresolved conflict that you would otherwise like to work out, there are XYZ resources available to you for conflict mediation.

8.6.3 Being Asked to Leave BAM Indefinitely

Bushwick Ayuda Mutua seeks to maintain a culture aligned with our guiding principles which includes an environment for transformative justice to take place. If you are asked to leave BAM it is because we see this as the last step of dealing with serious concerns or situations.

When a grievance has been brought against a member of BAM, it will first go through internal conflict resolution practices as listed in Internal Conflict Resolution section of this document.

9. BAM Volunteer Equity

All volunteers are people who either live in the area or want to support the community members of Bushwick / Ridgewood. Because BAM's model is based on mutual aid and solidarity, we engage community members as volunteers.

An ideal volunteer experience should be enjoyable, thought-provoking, and cooperative. It is when one has the resources to be knowledgeable, accountable, and active in the work. Simple ways to achieve these ideals are to provide volunteer training, have enough volunteers for tasks, constantly remind volunteers what is being accomplished, communicate with volunteers about their skills and connect them to work they would enjoy more.

You never know the many ways people can contribute to the pantry unless you get to know them over time, discover what they enjoy, and find out what they want to do. When people are put in roles that they do well and enjoy, especially when they're doing this work alongside people who know and care about them, participation will be high.

Volunteer benefits:

  • Sets of groceries and essential goods during distros
    • At distro, please go to the third floor and approach a check-in person to request toiletries and a ticket for groceries. The check-in person will hand you your toiletries. And once you're done with your shift, go to the 1st floor for your grocery sets.
  • Clothing during distros
    • Everyone is welcome to take clothes but please wait until the end of your shift or until the end of distro to compile the clothing you would like
  • Meals during distro & town halls
  • Volunteer acknowledgements (birthday shout-outs in the chat, perhaps milestone acknowledgements such as Thank you, Maria, for the onboarding kit! or write a card - give love!)
  • BAM get-togethers: picnics, after-distro hangs, fundraisers, town halls

Track Volunteer Time
We ask volunteers to sign in and out during their shifts. For volunteers working remotely or who volunteer by driving, we find out how many hours on average they work per week, and then ask them to let you know if they spend more or less time in a given week volunteering. We keep track of all the volunteer hours given to BAM.