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'It’s the calling of my life' | One woman fights for her community through the grief of COVID-19

Nee Nee Taylor has lost three loved ones to COVID-19 but remains on the front lines serving her community.

WASHINGTON — Data provided by the District shows D.C.’s Ward 8 has the most COVID-19 related deaths within the Nation's Capital. There are also countless volunteers who are still working the front lines in Ward 8, feeding and caring for their neighbors while dealing with their own losses. 

One such volunteer submitted a video diary to WUSA9’s Delia Gonçalves who helped tell her powerful story, which includes the loss of those close to her. 

“My name is Nee Nee Taylor. I’m an organizer with Black Lives Matter, Life After Release, and I’m also an administrator with the DC Mutual Aid Network,” she said in a cellphone video shot inside her home. 

DC Mutual Aid provides food for those in need within D.C. and parts of Prince George’s County. When WUSA9 met up with Taylor, she was loading up groceries for delivery to some Maryland families that are in need. 

“Our goal is to take care of each other and keep our city as safe as possible. By taking care of, I mean that we rise up in solidarity, not charity, because that's what mutual aid is. The COVID-19 pandemic has been very trying for me. The reality is that I'm also a central worker. So, my day starts with me waking up at three in the morning and heading to a grocery store where I'm a manager. I'm there for eight hours a day, sometimes 10,” Taylor explained.

Credit: wusa9

While she works to help others, she has days that are long and emotionally trying. 

“COVID-19 is a dangerous virus and the reality is it’s taking black families out. I’ve experienced three deaths of COVID-19,” she said as she bowed her head.

Since the pandemic outbreak, Taylor lost her childhood friend, her sons’ Godmother and her uncle. 

“My first cousins were at a funeral home in Ward 7 saying their final farewells to my uncle, which I wasn’t able to attend. Being a front line worker, I may be asymptomatic. So, I try my best to take care of my immune system because of that, yet, it's my job to keep people safe,” she said. 

Taylor also has a husband and teenage son to keep safe, so after her long day of working at the grocery stores and volunteering in the community, she showers and changes clothes before relaxing for the evening with family.

Now, her dear friend Aja Taylor, the advocacy director of Bread for the City and the woman she said made all these grocery deliveries possible, is now fighting the virus as well. 

“Somebody asked ‘why do I continue to do this work?’ Because somebody has to do it,” Taylor said. “It’s the calling of my life to support and protect black people."

While Taylor has seen so much sadness and worked herself tired for others, she is staying positive and optimistic. 

"My final words to you will be to stay safe. Please wear your mask. Wash your hands and stay home. Don't come out unless it’s essential and just know that we’re going to win. We’re going to beat COVID-19.”

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