Organization forms to help Taos, Enchanted Circle communities through disaster

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At an online meeting Monday (April 6), the nuts and bolts of handling an emergency brought on by a pandemic were hashed out by some of the leaders around Taos.

Meals for several hundred "vulnerable" kids in the Taos school district? Covered for at least five weeks with the help of funds through the Taos Community Foundation and the ongoing efforts of district staff.

Diapers for families in need? Cheri Lyon, pastor at El Pueblito Methodist Church, said they could expand existing programs to provide diapers.

Food for elders and people unable to leave their homes?

Internet connections?

At home jobs?

These and a hundred other questions are the kinds of challenges facing Taos County and the Enchanted Circle as the state restrictions put in place to halt the spread of a coronavirus impacts daily life - shuttering businesses, ending jobs and closing schools.

A group of businesses, governments, nonprofits and faith-based and community leaders formed the Enchanted Circle Community Organizations Active in Disaster to address the challenges.

They've met several times since the state issued its first public health emergency order in mid-March. The group's aim is "to foster effective preparedness, response and recovery for the people of the Enchanted Circle, especially in times of disaster," according to a statement from the group.

Their four main objectives: cooperation, coordination, communication and collaboration.

"As the impact of COVID-19 mounts in our community, we saw an opportunity to work together to develop a singular, collaborative approach to assessing the needs of the Enchanted Circle," said COAD member David Elliot, Holy Cross Medical Center. "Both the private and nonprofit sectors can move together quickly, and we will identify, categorize and organize community resources swiftly amidst this and future crises."

The group says it wants to focus on working together to quickly solve problems, identify resources within local communities and get help to those most in need.

To date, direct action steps have been: EC-COAD has contacted state leadership on high fuel prices in the region, strengthened a meal delivery system to vulnerable seniors in the community and is in final steps of building out an interactive platform that will serve as one tool to match volunteers with needs in the community.

"Moving forward, EC-COAD is committed to expanding the partnership networks within the greater region," said a statement from the group. If you have an unmet need or you wish to help, email the EC-COAD at info@taoscovid19mutualaidhub.com.

Preliminary members of EC-COAD include: Cheri Lyon, pastor at El Pueblito United Methodist Church/Shared Table; David Elliot, education and emergency preparedness coordinator with Holy Cross Medical Center; Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Inc.; Lisa O'Brien, foundation director of Taos Community Foundation; David Norden, CEO of Taos Ski Valley Inc.; and Susan Cady, executive director of the Taos County Chamber of Commerce. Town and county government liaisons are Brent Jaramillo, county manager of Taos County, and Rick Bellis, manager of the town of Taos.

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