The Chattanooga Free Store is a completely non-religious, volunteer run, mutual aid coalition. Our core belief is that everyone deserves to live well, and to be able to meet their basic needs. We believe that the solution to hunger, poverty, and other material inequality, is for communities to build their own systems and structures to care for each other. Communities, neighborhoods, and families know better than anyone what they need, and we believe in bringing them to the table and putting the resources we have directly in their hands.
Our Statement of Values
- We believe that food, water, shelter, healthcare, and all other basic necessities are human rights. Every person deserves to live well. We provide the services we do out of a sense of solidarity. We do it because our community members deserve it, and doing this creates the kind of community that we want to live in.
- We believe that the members of a community know what’s best for themselves, better than any outside organization or person. As such, we do not do any means-testing, and do not require any kind of documentation or proof of need.
- Our mission is holistic. People don’t lead single issue lives, and helping them with only one issue at a time does not create sustainable change. We work with organizations who have similar values and goals to provide as many kinds of care as possible to our community.
- We follow the principles of harm reduction. Aid is not conditioned on a person’s level of sobriety, or whether they use drugs. We work with local harm reduction organizations to distribute naloxone and other supplies at all of our events.
- We follow the principles of reproductive justice. People have a right to bodily autonomy, and that includes taking birth control, having an abortion, and having a safe, supported pregnancy and birth. It includes having a safe community to raise one’s children in, being able to feed, clothe, and house one’s children, and being able to give one’s children a good education.
- We stand for queer and trans liberation. Transgender and non binary people have a right to be safe and free of violence, discrimination, and hatred. Like everyone else, they have a right to free healthcare, including gender transition related healthcare and respectful, accepting providers. We respect every person’s identity as they determine it, and use every person’s correct pronouns and chosen name.
- We are anti-racist. We acknowledge that the system that we live in is built on white supremacy, and actively work against the racist biases we all hold. We serve a primarily Black community, and center their lived experiences and needs in the work we do.
- We are committed to accessibility. We strive to make our events completely accessible, and our coalition members, volunteers, and the people we serve are not discriminated against based on ability.
- CFS does not and will not work alongside law enforcement agencies or similar networks. We do not report any community members to law enforcement. We believe that communities keep ourselves safe, not the police.
Our leadership body is our coalition, which is made up of community members and activists who care about Chattanooga and know exactly what it’s like to need mutual aid. We use a horizontal decision making process called Consensus, where everyone has to agree on a solution before it is implemented, and no one person has more power than another.
If you are interested in being part of our coalition, please reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact info, and information about you and why you want to be part of our team!