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

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/

Why Austin needs Goodwill now

Thanks to your donations, Goodwill continues to change lives in Central Texas.

As Goodwill prepares for its Hall of Honor awards tonight, I thought it would be fitting to run the story we did about them in GivingCity Issue #3 (opens PDF).

Tonight they’ll honor clients who have overcome several obstacles to change their – and their families’ – lives for the better.

Congratulations to the Hall of Honor recipients!

FROM GIVINGCITY AUSTIN ISSSUE #3

For the past 14 years, Central Texas Goodwill has put people to work … but it’s not just the people who work in the stores.

“It’s important for people to understand what we contribute to the community,” says Gerald Davis, president of the Central Texas Goodwill, “and what we do is make people self-sufficient.”

Take Latisha Fisher, a young mother who didn’t have a driver’s license, worked nights, and had a second child on the way. And Willie Johnson who, after 20 years of working in the tech industry, found himself homeless, struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. And James Fowler who lost his job and then had trouble finding another employer who could accept his disabilities.

Thanks to Goodwill, Fisher is now a heath specialist at a shortterm psychiatric facility, Johnson a custodian, and Fowler a busser at Luby’s.

Depending on each person’s situation, Goodwill’s case workers collaborate with area nonprofits, agencies, and employers to put their clients on the right paths.

First, case workers help them resolve some of their survival challenges like food, shelter, transportation, or child care. Next a case worker starts the client on training for job placement; things like interviewing, resume writing, and soft skills like how to deal with coworkers.

A client may need Goodwill’s services for a couple of months or a couple of years to gain that foothold.

“At any given time, we’re working with about 200 employers,” says Davis. “Where we place them depends on what the client wants.” Only a small percentage of clients wind up working at the stores.

Here’s how your donations help:

When you drop off your bags of stuff, workers inside the stores hustle to get the merchandise out on the floor to be sold, usually, within 24 hours of being donated. Goodwill takes the money from those sales to pay case managers, trainers, and other services that get people jobs.

“It’s a system that’s worked for more than 100 years,” says Gerald Davis, president of the Central Texas Goodwill. “The best we can do in our stories is offer good customer service.”

There at 18 donations centers across Austin. Click here to find a drop-off center near you.

Real progress! East Austin doing something about drop-outs

East_Austin_Prep_Coverimage

Imagine having no middle school for your child. That’s the situation for many East Austin families. A new middle school not only fills that void, it creates an innovative learning environment that prepares these kids for college – not just high school but college.

Tomorrow night (November 5), Southwest Key will host an open house for the East Austin College Prep Academy. They’re very proud. And they want everyone to attend.

We had a feature about mentoring and middle school and drop-out rates in AISD in our latest issue (download it here). Frankly, the numbers scare the hell out of me. And if you plan to raise a family in Austin, they should scare you, too.

Great news: Not only can you do something about it, others are doing something about it, too.

Southwest Key has a weird name but you should get to know them because they are the largest Hispanic-serving nonprofit in Austin. They started this middle school where there was none, and it’s going to make a huge difference in Austin’s Hispanic community.

We talked to John Turner, the Interim Director of Communications for Southwest Key.

1. This year there were 90 sixth graders that started the academy. Next year you’ll have a seventh grade and then an eighth grade campus. Who are these students and what middle schools/high schools would they otherwise attend?

We are based in the Govalle/Johnston Terrace neighborhood in East Austin, a neighborhood that has not had a middle school for many years. As there is no local middle school, the students were being bused out to middle schools in other parts of the city.

 Our students come from 26 different schools in Austin and have chosen our school because it is based on the highly successfully YES college prep model that has been ranked among the top 100 schools in America by US News & World Report

 2. Why a middle school? Wouldn’t a college-prep program focus on high school students?

There’s a number of reasons why a middle school. We canvassed the local community and parents, and they overwhelmingly requested a middle school. Many parents found it hard to get involved with their kids education due to the busing, so housing the school in our community center made a lot of sense.

We also analyzed research about at what stage was the best place to start affecting education and the drop-out rates, and it was apparent that starting with middle school would have a greater benefit and impact for local kids and families. 

3. So at this open house tomorrow, what can we expect to see?

All of the classrooms and facilities will be open, visitors will also be able to talk to the principal Dr. Nellie Cantu, school staff about the curriculum and approach, and hear from Southwest Key CEO, Dr. Juan Sánchez, about our future plans to expand quality education alternatives in East Austin.  

(Editor’s note: I heare there will also be food and drinks….)

4. I want to support your work with this middle school/academy. What are some ways I can get involved?

We always need advocates and supporters for our approach, which is simply providing an alternative quality education for children in East Austin.

Volunteers are welcome for the many after-school and other support programs, (the Boys and Girls Club is also housed here), offering to host field trips for the students service projects, and donations of school supplies are most welcome too! 

For more information, please contact Victoria Gutierrez at vgutierrez@swkey or 512-583-2567.

 

ABOUT THE EVENT:  

Open House
Thursday, November 5, 2009
4:30-7:00pm

6002 Jain LaneAustin, TX 78721

MAP TO EVENT

Appetizers, wine and hors d’oeuvres, performance, and more!

 

Just another Alan Graham story from another Alan Graham fan

I’m telling you, someday someone is going to write a book about Alan Graham, founder of Mobile Loaves and Fishes. No, a book isn’t right. Too flat.

They’re going to make a movie about him. He’s just that charismatic of a guy. But it’s beyond charisma; it’s the way he uses his brain.

Alan Graham has the rare ability to find the shortest path from problem to solution. You won’t spend 10 minutes talking with the man before he says something so fresh and so startling that the only possible reaction you could have to what he just said is, “Duh.”

Not in an “Everybody knows that,” way but rather in a “Well, shit, why didn’t anybody else think of that?” way.

For example, a couple years ago a short-lived ice storm hit downtown, closing office buildings and reducing traffic to almost nothing. The shelters and soup kitchens were closed, but people still needed food that day, probably that day more than others. Alan Graham got a phone call. Could he bring a truck down?

No, he couldn’t bring a truck down. But he could send some pizzas. How many pizzas did they need?

He called pizza delivery, made them a deal, and had several dozen pizzas delivered downtown. Couple hundred bucks. Lots of people fed.

Maybe that sounds obvious now, but who else thinks to deliver pizza to homeless people during an ice storm, when no one else can come up with a way to help them? Duh.

A smart, easy way to double your donation

A $4000 donation to Heart House via GiveRealty.

A $4000 donation to Heart House via GiveRealty.

This is genius.

We’re obviously fans of GiveRealty‘s business model; the real estate broker donates 25 percent of its commission to the charity of the seller/buyer’s choice, in their name. But using the new website RecognizeGood– also born and raised in Austin – GiveRealty was able to double that donation.

A recent home sale through GiveRealty resulted in a $4000 donation to Heart House, a free afterschool program that provides over 200 low-income and at-risk children in Austin with access to caring adult mentors, homework assistance, art enrichment, computer learning, health and safety education, and literacy programs.
 
Because the gift to Heart House was channeled through RecognizeGood, an Austin-based philanthropic website, and doubled through a matching gift program generously supported by RecognizeGood’s corporate sponsors TyRex Group and ABC Home and Commercial Services.
 
“The generosity of TyRex Group and ABC Home and Commercial Services significantly increased the impact of our donation to Heart House”, said Loew. “By providing a forum where Central Texans can recognize and reward acts of kindness, RecognizeGood is encouraging philanthropy in a very innovative way.”

All this from a home sale. Think about how many home sales there are in Austin. Think about a25 percent of all that real estate commission, double it, and picture that going to a local charity.

What it takes to have nonprofit collaboration in Austin

A successful collaboration or merger can seem like a miracle. As the former associate director of Community Action Network and a nonprofit consultant, Sam Woollard, a GivingCity contributor, has participated and lead the formation of a number of collaborations around  Central Texas.

“Collaborations and mergers are all about the timing,” she says. “Even if there’s a consensus to work together and a strong action plan, a single change in a funding model or at the legislature could seriously impact the effort. Plus, participants must come to the table with the needs of the entire community in mind, not just the needs of their board  or their constituency.”

Here are some Central Texas collaborations in which Woollard has participated.

Aging Services Council: Addresses  depression in older adults; coordinates home  repair programs; started a caregiver university.

Success by 6: Supports the annual child  well-being report card; supports quality child  care initiatives; supports education about early  childhood.

Central Texas Afterschool Network: Hosts the annual Lights on After School;  convened a forum about middle school students  and afterschool needs; conduct training for  after-school teachers and administrators.

Ready by 21 Coalition: Created a local  youth council; just released a Go to College  Guide for Educators and Youth service  professionals; manages an initiative to  increase the quality of after school  programs.

Basic Needs Coalition: Coordinates the annual Poverty  Awareness month each January;  coordinate the Best Single Source  program; coordinating a benefits  enrollment assistance training on  May 28th.

Children and Youth Mental Health Planning Partnership: Conducts an annual awareness event each  May; addresses the systemic issues impacting  children and mental health.

Re-entry Rountable : Addresses issues related to people leaving the criminal justice  system.

Ending Community Homelesnes Coalition (ECHO): Coordinates the  Continuum of Care grant every year; conducts  an annual homeless awareness forum in the fall;  sponsors the Let’s Get to Work Forum on May  21st to identify pathways to work for people  experiencing homelessness.

Victim Services Task Force: Conduct  awareness activities during the annual Crime  Victims Rights Week, support legislative efforts to  increase the crime victims compensation fund.

HousingWorks: Hosts annual housing  summit each fall; provides a speaker’s bureau for  housing issues; identifies and advocates for  policies that will support affordable housing.