On why we do this

Before GivingCity came to the Austin Community Foundation, we produced a lot of content for a lot of other people. One of our favorite things to work on was and is 12 Baskets Magazine for Mobile Loaves & Fishes. We still do 12 Baskets now.

Here’s how we got that gig: I was standing in the lobby of Alamo Drafthouse, waiting to watch the first showing of Andrew Shapter’s film, “Happiness Is.” Alan Graham was also there to see the film, and we were chatting a bit about what it is I do, exactly. I gave him the overview (“You know, I just like working on magazines.”), and then he asked me if I could make him a digital magazine that was provocative and awesome.

Who’s going to turn that down?

So we made a 12 Baskets magazine. And then another. And they’ve had more than 11,000 views so far, which is not bad for what is basically a spiffed up-nonprofit newsletter. These two issues have included amazing stories, but they’ve spurred some amazing stories, too. Here’s one:

Two weeks ago we received an email from a woman asking us if we could tell her anything about Joseph Coleman.

We’d photographed him for a recurring story, “Everything I Own,” (above) in which we ask a homeless person to display the contents of his or her bag. Other magazines use this concept to offer insight into a person’s interests and personality. We use it to offer insight in to a homeless person’s hope and/or desperation.

Turns out the woman who emailed us is Coleman’s niece. And she’s been looking for him.

There wasn’t much I could tell her except that we found him around Woolridge Park. Coleman’s story was particularly sad: He owned two blankets wrapped in a scarf and a prayer card. That’s all.

She told us she’d go look for him, see if she could help him. Her family had taken care of him in the past, but hadn’t seem him in about 10 years. Coleman has addiction problems that keep him from staying in one place for too long. She sent me this photos of Coleman as a boy. I hope she finds him.


SAT DEC 11: Because toys make children happy, people

Look at these photos. Just look.

Did I tell you about the time I got the Barbie Dream House? It was amazing. I adore(d) Barbies, and getting that Dream House is one of my favorite memories — never mind that my grandmother actually pulled it out of a trash can to give to me.

I don’t mean to get sappy on you, because for me that’s still a happy memory. There’s no other way I would have ever had the Barbie Dream House; it just wasn’t in the budget for my family, you know? The point is, toys make a difference to kids. And YOU can help make that difference to kids this Saturday.

This Saturday is the 13th Annual River City Youth Foundation “Merry Memories” holiday event in Dove Springs, a community just southeast of Austin. More than 95% of the children living in Dove Springs receive federally subsidized lunch. (So in other words, ALL of them.) If they can’t afford lunch, what kind of Christmas do you think they’re going to have?

Here’s how you can help:

DONATE TOYS

VOLUNTEER TO SORT TOYS

Merry Memories

13th Annual Toy Give-Away

WHERE

Dove Springs Recreation Center
5801 Ainez Dr, Austin, TX 78744

WHEN

Sorting of toys starting at 9 a.m. Event runs from 12-3 PM

Individuals and groups welcome!

To donate or volunteer contact
Oné Musel-Gilley (pronounced onay)
(512) 576-0219
PR@rivercityyouth.org
or Mona Gonzalez at (512) 633-9708

Get shopping, save Christmas. An Austin family needs you.

Foundation Communities family

The Tolfree family, helped by Foundation Communities.

PROBLEM:

More than 2,000 Austin families will consider “canceling Christmas” this year because they can’t afford the toys, gifts or even food to celebrate.

SOLUTION:

You or your company can adopt a family and save Christmas.

It’s simple. Just visit Foundation Communities to download a family sponsorship form, fill it in to let them know what size family you’d like to sponsor, etc.

Send in your family sponsorship form by Thursday, December 9.

This is your chance to be a hero, folks. Your donation goes straight to the families with the most need, and you can spend as much or as little as you want. Foundation Communities offers lots of gift ideas for each person in the family, so this is a easy, fun way to share the joy of the season.

And if you’ve ever seen a child on Christmas morning opening a present and seeing exactly the toy they asked Santa for…  Seriously, it will make your whole year.

What I love about Foundation Communities is that they have an amazing way of helping not just families with the most need but Austin overall because they’re repurposing empty hotels and apartments and condos into affordable housing that helps get families off the streets. They also give them a leg-up offering classes, training, community daycare and other services that give families a solid base for success.

So I don’t feel bad about pulling out my marketing copywriting hat to sell this opportunity to you.

Get the form & sponsor a family here.

Send in the sponsorship form by December 9.

Get your co-workers, employees, and family involved.

Save Christmas!

(Want to donate single items? See here for drop-off locations and drop them off before December 18!)


PS: For more opportunities to give this holiday, see our “75 Ways to Give” in GivingCity Austin Issue #5. Because once you start giving, you’re not going to be able to stop.

Free Thanksgiving Meals in Central Texas, from Food Bank

Thanksgiving Feast of SharingMany of us are making do with less this year. Some of us less than others.

I’ve learned that we get a wide range of people who come across this blog, so we can’t just post “how to help” content without also listing “how to get help” as well.

So I’ve divided this special Thanksgiving post into three categories. Why Help, How to Help, and How to Get Help. Here’s hoping you’re in the middle.

WHY HELP

This one’s easy. The Capital Area Food Bank has created this amazing site called Hunger is Unacceptable. Consider these facts from the site… then think about you’re going to spend your Thanksgiving.

  • 1 in 5 people Austin food bank serves experience the physical pain of hunger.
  • 41% of Austin food bank clients are children.
  • Almost half of Austin food bank clients have at least one working adult at home.

HOW TO HELP

The good news is, this one is hard. Nonprofits tell me that volunteers spots for Thanksgiving meal events fill up by mid-October, so if you haven’t signed up yet, you’re probably too late.

But, of course, there’s a very simple way to redeem your tardiness. Donate. Here. Done. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

HOW TO GET HELP

Here is a list created by the Capital Area Food Bank of places where anyone can get a free Thanksgiving Meal in and around Austin. Many of these places offer clothing and other items besides food.

11/18/2010 Thursday

Travis County Health and Human Services, NW Rural Community Center
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 267-3245
18649 FM1431 Ste 6A Jonestown Austin, TX 78645
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Montopolis Recreation Center
6:00 p.m.
(512) 385-5931
1200 Montopolis Dr. Austin, TX 78741
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Givens Recreation Center
7:00 p.m.
(512) 928-1982
3811 E. 12th St. Austin, TX 78721
Open to the Public – Free

11/19/2010 Friday

Travis County Health and Human Services, EAST RURAL COMMUNITY CENTER
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
(512) 272-5561 / 278-0414
600 W. Carrie Manor St. Manor Austin, TX 78653
Primarily for Precinct 1 – No one turned away

Southside Community Center
6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
(512) 392-6694
518 S. Guadalupe St. San Marcos, TX 78666
Open to the Public – Free

11/20/2010 Saturday

Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center (sponsored by Mt. Carmel Grand Lodge)
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(512) 972-6740
2808 Webberville Rd. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, CANTU/PAN AM RECREATION CENTER
11:00 a.m. –2:00 p.m.
(512) 476-9193
2100 E. 3rd Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

Helping Hands Center
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(512) 472-2298
1179 San Bernard St. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free. Meal at Olivet Baptist Church

Shoreline Christian Center at East Campus
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
(512) 983-1048
East 6th and San Marcos St Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free. Distribution of 1000 sleeping bags, backpacks and socks

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
5:00 p.m.
(512) 251-0698
14311 Wells Port Dr. Austin, TX 78728
Open to the Public – Free

11/21/2010 Sunday

Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM) at University Baptist Church
Meal follows 3:30 p.m. Service
2130 Guadalupe Austin, TX 78705
Pot Luck served after the service -not a meal

11/22/2010 Monday

Mobile Loaves & Fishes at First Baptist Church
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
(512) 328-7299
First Baptist Church 901 Trinity St. Austin, TX 78701
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Virginia L. Brown Recreation Center
6:00 p.m.
(512) 974-7865
7500 Blessing Ave. Austin TX 78752
Open to the Public – Free

St. John Community Center
5:59 p.m. – Food Gone
(512) 972-5159
7500 Blessing Ave. Austin, TX 78752
Open to the Public – Free

11/23/2010 Tuesday

United Way / HEB Feast of Caring at Palmer Events Center
4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
(512) 421-1000-HEB Public Affairs
900 Barton Springs Rd Austin, TX 78704
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Dove Springs Recreation Center
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
(512) 447-5875
5801 Ainez Dr. AustinTX78744
Open to the Public – Free

11/24/2010 Wednesday

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Parque Zaragosa Recreation Center
9:00 a.m. Service Project/ Lunch to follow
(512) 472-7142
2608 Gonzales St. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free. For teens only

Baptist Community Center
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
(512) 472-7592
2000 E. 2nd St. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

11/25/2010 Thursday

North Austin Christian Church
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(512) 836-3282
1734 Rutland Dr. Austin, TX 78758
No one turned away – primarily for community around the church.


St. Louis Catholic Church

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 454-0384
Wozniak Hall 7601 Burnet Rd Austin, TX 78757
Open to the Public – Free

Bethany United Methodist Church

11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
(512) 258.6017
10010 Anderson Mill Rd. Austin, TX 78750
Open to the Public – Free

St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Noon – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 476-6757
605 W. 15th St. Austin, TX 78701
Open to the Public – Free


The Salvation Army Social Service Center

Noon – 5:00 p.m.
(512) 476-1111
501 E. 8th St. Austin, TX 78701
Open to the Public – Free

Ministry of Challenge
Noon – 3:00 p.m.
(512) 370-3960
1500 E. 12th Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

Santa Cruz Catholic Church, Buda
Noon
(512) 415-4012
1100 Main St. Buda, TX 78610
Must RSVP

St. William’s Catholic Church
Noon – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 255-4473
620 Round Rock West Dr. 78681 Round Rock, TX 78610
Open to the Public – Free

For more information on how to get food, visit www.austinfoodbank.org/get-help/

Advice for ending homelessness

!2 Baskets Magazine The latest issue of 12 Baskets Magazine has some heartbreaking stories, I think. You’ve got to read the one about Rain. (That’s her, left.) She’s a homeless girl who lives on the streets of Austin with her friends. She shouldn’t have to sleep on the street. She didn’t do anything wrong.

She did, however, get a ticket for violating Austin’s Sleep-Lie Ordinance, which prohibits anyone from, well, sitting or lying on a downtown street. (Austin is one of the few cities in the country that has such an ordinance.) She couldn’t possibly pay the ticket, but she still carries it in her backpack, along with tampons, a change of clothes, a blanket and a spiral with some of her drawings. These are all of her possessions. Everything she owns.

We could help her, and in fact, LifeWorks does. Probably a number of other basic needs and emergency needs nonprofits, too. If you support these nonprofits, you’re doing a good thing. But maybe there’s something else you could do…? Something that might prevent more girls like Rain from sleeping on the streets…?

Here are some things you could do:

  1. Be a good neighbor.
  2. Make up with your sister after that fight.
  3. Take the morning off of work to visit your friend’s kid in the hospital.
  4. Knock on the door of the old lady down the street, the one who just talks and talks, and ask her how she’s doing.
  5. Drive an hour out of your way to visit those cousins you haven’t seen in a while.
  6. When you’re out shopping for yourself and you see something your mother might like, get it for her even if it isn’t her birthday or anything.
  7. Send a card to your uncle that made you think of him.
  8. For heaven’s sake, babysit your sister’s children for one lousy Saturday night so she and her husband can remember what it feels like to be married for a few hours. Would it kill you?

 

A person falls through many, many cracks before they wind up living out of their car or on the streets, or in a weekly hotel or an abandoned building. What finally snaps and drops them to the bottom is their ties to people who love them.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HUNGER & HOMELESSNESS IN AUSTIN THIS WEEK. MANY EVENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO CHOOSE FROM. VISIT http://hhweekaustin.com/

Austin teen runs annual food drive, basket by basket

Broushka, a 15-year-old Austin teen, has raised thousands of pounds of food for Caritas.

An Austin teenager, Bridget Boushka, has been organizing an annual food drive in her neighborhood since she was 12 years old. What started as a volunteer project through her school, St. Gabriel’s Catholic School, led to her collecting 542 pounds worth of food for the nonprofit Caritas, which serves low-income and refugee adults and families. That was the first year.

Two years later, Boushka raised 2,029 pounds of donated items, including food, drinks, diapers and clothing. In addition to in-kind donations, the drive raised $700 worth of H-E-B gift cards, $560 in bus passes and $2,300 in cash donations.

Boushka attributes the success of her food drive to the generosity of her neighbors, but she also has a sure-fire plan of action. She outlines her project to neighbors on a flyer that she attaches to a large basket and delivers to each doorstep. The flyer asks donors to simply leave items they want to donate in the basket on their front porch for pick-up within the next week. 

Mindful of the most urgent needs of Caritas clients, Boushka also includes a wish list for neighbors to reference on what to give. As promised, she then travels up and down neighborhood streets picking up baskets filled with donations.

“My neighbors are always so enthusiastic to be a part of the drive, they feel like they are making such an impact,” Boushka beams. To adequately demonstrate the collective impact, Boushka photographs all the items together and includes them in thank you notes.
 
Executive Director for Caritas of Austin, Beth Atherton says, “I am so impressed by Bridget’s passion, energy and drive. It is encouraging to see such exemplary leadership in a young adult and Caritas is fortunate to have her support.”

This year, Boushka will celebrate her 16th birthday, but the busy St. Michael’s Catholic Academy student, All-State swimmer, track and cross country runner says she will definitely continue her annual food drive, saying, “I love doing it, it is so rewarding.” With a 16th birthday between now and then, the only difference is that next year she will be the one behind the wheel delivering donations.

Introducing 12 Baskets for Mobile Loaves & Fishes

12 Baskets Homeless Austin Danny Maggie IAMHERE T3Last fall I was chatting with Alan Graham at some event when he asked me, “So did I see something in one of your Tweets about custom publishing?”

And that’s how 12 Baskets started. Six months later, we’re about to launch the first magazine issue, timed to coordinate with the launch of a huge campaign to raise awareness about homelessness and put Danny & Maggie, a homeless couple from Austin, in a permanent home.

I wanted to thank all the people who contributed, but especially recognize Robin Finlay, who donated her time and talent as an art director to make the magazine…. well, it just works. That’s what great art directors do, and Robin — sitting across from me now, btw — is definitely one of the best art directors in Texas.

Please open it here. More importantly, get to know the people in this magazine and, if you’re so inclined, help them by donating or volunteering. You can even text “Danny” to 20222 to donate $10 to get Danny and his wife, Maggie, off the streets and into a permanent home.

Thank you, and let me know what you think.

P.S. Thanks, Alan, for the opportunity. We learned a lot and had a great time.