In a remarkable display of community solidarity, multiple borough organizations in Mott Haven came together to host a free clinic.
Their mission? To assist victims of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit skimming in submitting claims to the state.
The need for such support is evident, as the city’s Human Resources Administration estimates that approximately 22,000 individuals, including 8,000 in the Bronx, have fallen prey to electronic theft or skimming of their EBT and SNAP benefits since 2022.
While a new state program offers victims a route to reimbursement, the organizations have recognized that the journey is far from straightforward, particularly within immigrant communities.
Regina Favela, a dedicated social worker at Red De Pueblos Transnacionales, eloquently describes the challenges victims face in navigating the claim process. She highlights that it can be “really challenging and difficult to navigate, especially for folks that might not have digital literacy or might not know how to read and write.”
Maru Ponce, the program’s executive director, echoes these sentiments. She underlines the potential intimidation factor, particularly for individuals with unfamiliar digital interfaces and terminologies, even when presented in their native language.
In response to these challenges, Red De Pueblos Transnacionales and other community groups have taken a stand to make the process more accessible for victims.
They aim to simplify the journey as much as possible, ensuring that every affected individual can confidently embark on the road to reimbursement.
Key to their strategy is the involvement of dedicated volunteers who act as guides throughout the entire process.
First, they ensure that victims can access the necessary tools, such as email and online accounts with Connect EBT. Once this foundation is established, they take victims through each step of the claim process, all while communicating in the victim’s native language.
The impact of these initiatives is already tangible. Victims like Socorro Calero, who once felt the burden of despair, have found renewed hope.
Socorro shares her journey, expressing her readiness to abandon any hope of recovering her stolen benefits.
However, fate intervened when she came across information about the clinic on social media.
Encouraged by the support she received, she decided to reach out.
Socorro’s translator conveys her immense gratitude, emphasizing that she finally found answers to long-overdue questions.
Now, she’s eager to share her newfound knowledge with her neighbors who have undergone similar ordeals. The spirit of empowerment is contagious.
Aid Victims of EBT and SNAP Benefit Theft
These community organizations are unwavering in their commitment to extending their support to as many affected individuals as possible.
Their vision includes hosting additional clinics and informational sessions, ensuring victims are informed and well-prepared to reclaim their stolen EBT and SNAP benefits.
In a world where community unity takes center stage, the actions of these organizations offer a powerful reminder of the difference that can be made when individuals come together to uplift one another during times of need.