Campus Organizer Alumni: I started an abortion fund at age 22
When I graduated college in May of 2021, I was ecstatic to celebrate, but also remembered that with graduation came having to step away from my role as a Campus Organizer with Deeds Not Words (since you can’t organize a campus if you don’t attend one anymore, who would have thought?). As the natural-born-organizer that I am and that Deeds molded me into, I immediately felt an absence in my life as college came to a close and there were suddenly no more protests to plan, petitions to distribute, and administrators to upset. So, I decided to channel my energy into something different, something that proved to be much more challenging than any other experience I had beforehand, but also something that is my greatest source of pride today.
I founded an abortion fund.
Wild West Access Fund of Nevada (WWAF) was born in June of 2021. Like any new parent, I had little idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that Nevada (my home state) didn’t have an active abortion fund at the time, and that was a problem that needed to be fixed. I started laying the foundation for WWAF by doing the things I do best: creating social media accounts and getting Instagram and Twitter’s algorithms to work in my favor. Within a week of launching, I had managed to raise over $2,000 from digital organizing alone. Having done that groundwork, I was ready to fund some abortions, so the funding application for WWAF opened on our website.
I still remember the first time I got a notification the Funding Application form was filled out. At first I felt a deep excitement that this thing — this thing I created with no manual in-hand — seemed to be working. Then, I remembered I was on a massive learning curve (they don’t teach you how to start and run your own non-profit in college), so I took some time to think through how I wanted to approach the situation. I drafted some questions to go over with the applicant and finally got on the phone with her. I collected the information I needed, many of which revolved around her “gap to care”, which WWAF defines as the amount of funds still needed to finance one’s abortion. A few minutes after we hung up, I wired $400 over to the clinic where she had booked an appointment. I don’t think any feeling can quite compare to what I felt after. I had managed to make something out of nothing that ensured a woman who otherwise would not have been able to afford her procedure had that money. How is that for being a Changemaker?
Fast forward seven months later, and WWAF has grown into something much bigger than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. For legitimacy purposes, I was careful about telling people that it was a one-woman-show to begin with. I knew what I was capable of, and I knew that with time others would join the cause, but I didn’t want any potential donors doubting the ability of a 22-year-old with a deep passion for reproductive justice.
Today, I write this blog post as the Board President of an abortion fund that has helped over 250 people access the care they need. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real that an organization that had such scrappy beginnings has grown to have thousands of followers and fundraise over $70,000 in six months of existence. But if there is anything that I have learned, it’s that the spirit of doing what is right even if it is difficult, the exact thing that being a Campus Organizer with Deeds Not Words taught me, lives on well after your college years. I am so grateful I had such a wonderful team of people at Deeds who invested in me during my time at the University of Texas at Dallas, because they ignited a fire in me, a fire that only grows bigger each time policymakers pass a bill like the horrendous S.B. 8 in Texas.
I am excited for the future of WWAF and I owe a big thank you to Deeds, and to Wendy Davis, a leader I have looked up to for as long as I can remember, for making me into the woman I am today.