It’s safe to say these past weeks have been among some of the most tumultuous and emotional that many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt by individuals and families, companies and communities across the United States and around the world.

What has struck me during the response to this crisis, and what it has required from our society, is actually what it has revealed of us as a people.

During this crisis and the required social distancing, we are witnessing something profound and moving about ourselves: our desire to be connected with one another and the important role we can all play in supporting others.

The American Pilgrims Mission in an Era of Social Distancing

Inform:  We continue to update our website (americanpilgrims.org/posts/) with links to reliable sources of information.  You can also stay up to date through our Facebook groups for walkers (facebook.com/groups/AmericanPilgrims) and cyclists (facebook.com/groups/CyclingAmericanPilgrims).

Gather:  Just because we can’t be proximate to each other doesn’t mean we have to distance ourselves from our Camino community. Our two Facebook groups for walkers and cyclists allow participants to stay in touch and stay connected with the Camino and our community of pilgrims. Some local chapters are gathering virtually for coffee or tapas. Engage with your fellow pilgrims, share stories, recipes and dreams of your next Camino.

Support:  We are humbled by your desire to offer financial assistance to our Camino friends in Spain, France and Portugal through American Pilgrims on the Camino during this heartbreaking time.

As a U.S. nonprofit organization, we are subject to I.R.S. restrictions on sending money abroad. We have researched ways to make additional donations outside our existing grants program and found our grants program is the full extent of what we are legally able to do. We cannot act as a conduit for those who wish to support selected albergues or associations, nor can we send funds for operating purposes.

The good news is we can receive donations into a “general grants fund” that’s administered with a review process that we’ve had in place for years and works exceptionally well. We can send funds to eligible charities that submit an application, meet our grants requirements and comply with U.S. legal requirements.

At the March board meeting, we approved more than $50,000 in grants to 17 albergues and Camino associations in Spain and Portugal for the 2020 grant cycle. Your membership dues and donations are what allow us to make these grants. While we received requests for more than double that amount, some applications were incomplete, others didn’t meet our criteria and some were contingent upon funding from other sources. What is clear, however, is a need for funds to support the Camino’s infrastructure.

We are deeply grateful for your generosity of spirit, your sense of community and your willingness to support the Camino. Donations to American Pilgrims in any amount are welcome. If you desire, you can indicate in the comments box that your donation be earmarked for the grants program. You can make a donation by going to americanpilgrims.org/give-back and clicking on the Make a Donation button.

While much remains uncertain right now, one thing is sure: This crisis will pass. Our nation and our communities will recover, and we will return to the Camino. When that happens, we want you to be proud of the actions we took on behalf of the pilgrim community and everyone we serve.

Stay safe and be well,

Dave Donselar, Chair

Board of Directors

American Pilgrims on the Camino