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/

(Re)Introducing GivingCity Austin

It was almost exactly three years ago that I wrote the first blog post for GivingCity Austin. A few months later I started messing around on Twitter, then we launched our first digital issue, then a Facebook page and suddenly I was calling Evan Smith to write an article for the magazine … as if I had any idea what I was doing.

Luckily, GivingCity had a few guiding principles (and the best designer in Austin) on its side. Among those guiding principles were these:

1. People like stories. Of course, people like infographics, databases, reports, charts, graphs, lists and I hear some weirdos enjoy Excel pivot tables. But nothing inspires, intrigues and connects people like a story does. And thanks to the Internets, there are a million more ways to tell a story.

2. Magazines can support communities. I love the way Tribeza supports the community of Austinites who love fashion; how Edible Austin supports local foodies; how AustinFit supports people who look great in workout clothes. The trick to making a magazine that supports a community is in the editing — or what they call “curating” these days. Curated, targeted and relevant content can foster shared affinities. And again, the wonderful Internets is a great place to grow a magazine.

3. Austinites want to help, it’s just hard for us to fit it into our lives. But I think the same city that can support magazines about fashion, foodies and fitness can also support a magazine about philanthropy. Because as Austinites, we truly have a passion for making our city one of the country’s best places to live.

I’m glad Torquil Dewar felt the same way. He’s a sucker for magazines, like I am, but he has the rare ability to turn a bunch of copy and pictures into an “experience.”  Plus, he’s made more digital magazines than just about any designer in the country. And it helps that he apparently doesn’t sleep.

GivingCity had always been a labor of love. I hate that phrase, but there’s no better way to say it. We put our own personal resources into it and have never seen anywhere near a profit, but that’s not what it was about for us. What kept us going was the creative freedom and, more than that, your support. Unfortunately, between the day jobs, the kids, the other freelance work, we had to stop producing the magazine. On our list of priorities — namely our families and our need for steady incomes — GivingCity just didn’t make the cut.

Now after four issues, hundreds of blog and Facebook posts, thousands of Tweets, and lots and lots of caffeine, we’re very proud to say that GivingCity has found a home.

The Austin Community Foundation has decided to support GivingCity Austin as part of its mission to grow a culture of generosity and philanthropy in Central Texas. The good people there have hired us to produce GivingCity Austin just the way we’ve produced it in the past as a service to the community. GivingCity Austin’s mission won’t change much; it will include stories from all over the community, not just ACF; and we’ll continue to distribute it digitally to our audience, ACF’s audience and whomever else wants it, free. Look for the first issue this fall.

In addition to this, on July 1, I’ll become the Austin Community Foundation’s first ever communications director, which I’m over the moon about. The Austin Community Foundation has a truly amazing story to tell. They are one of the pillars of the philanthropic community in Austin, and it will be my mission to tell more Central Texans about the important services and support it provides.

Seth Godin says we should “delight and overwhelm” our true fans, and that’s what we’re going to aim to do. Yes, GivingCity Austin is about bringing new people to the philanthropy community, but when we make it, we think of you — those of you who are already plugged in and looking for more, those of you who have told us this is exactly what you’ve been looking for, and those of you who’ve emailed, called, commented, friended, liked, re-Tweeted, #FFd and all the other means you’ve used to keep us on the right path.

Thank you so much, a thank you especially to ACF. Look for major improvements in the coming year, and, as always, let us know what you think.

Feria Para Aprender: The biggest Austin education event you’ve never heard of

Feria Para Aprender Austin

When I first heard about Feria Para Aprender, I was shocked. How is it that I don’t know about an education fair in Austin attended by 15,000 Spanish-speaking Austinites in its three years?

Am I the only one in Austin who didn’t know about this? Apparently it was brought to Austin Partners in Education by Hispanic leader Sylvia Acevedo, and it caught on like wildfire. Wow. Here’s some background about Feria from their Facebook page: (Become a FAN!)

Overview: Feria Para Aprender is an education fair for Spanish-speaking parents and students in the greater Austin community. This one-day event brings together over 75 non-profit organizations, school district departments and universities to spread the message that education is the key to economic prosperity.

strong>Mission: Over the last 3 years, Feria Para Aprender has reached over 15,000 Spanish-speaking parents and students by providing educational resources and materials entirely in Spanish. Feria Para Aprender has also raised awareness of the need for bilingual staff members in local non-profit organizations.

Feria Para Aprender spreads the “Para Una Buena Vida” message:

1. Graduate from high school and earn $1 million in your lifetime.
2. Graduate from college and earn an additional $1 million in your lifetime.
3. Learning English and Spanish fluently will give you more employment opportunities and higher salaries.

How you can get involved: Feria Para Aprender couldn’t happen without the support of hundreds of volunteers. Volunteers are need throughout the day on Friday, February 5 to help set up activities and equipment as well as sort the thousands of donated books. Spanish-speaking volunteers are encouraged to volunteer at the event to help guide parents and facilitate the numerous activities around the Expo Center grounds.

Please visit www.austinpartners.org/feria-para-aprender to register for as an exhibitor or a volunteer.

For more information, please contact Christin Alvarado at calvarado@austinpartners.org.

New data reports status of Austin community conditions

This is not good news.

From an email sent by the Community Action Network:

(BTW, CAN’s marking Poverty Awareness Month, y’all! Which begs the question, Do poor people really need to raise their awareness of poverty… and for a whole month? I think they’re painfully aware, thank you.)

Travis County Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs has released its 2009 Community Impact Report on Community Conditions. The report provides a general overview of how our community is doing with regard to basic needs, housing, workforce development, education, behavioral health and other areas in which Travis County invests funds for services.

A few highlights…
•    Since the beginning of 2009,  Austin Energy has received 75% more requests for utility assistance than for all of 2008.
•    In November 2009, 107,288 Travis County residents received food stamps, up 68% from January 2008.
•    Foreclosure postings in Travis County rose 110% from 3,482 postings in 2007 to 7,309 postings in 2009.
•    There was a 28% increase in visits to local emergency rooms by individuals presenting primarily with mental health issues between 2006 and 2008.
•    Between 2003 and 2008, the Austin MLS median home price rose by 22% and the average home price rose by 24%, but median family income increased only by 3%.

Pastor Joe Parker: Leaders Aren’t Always in the Front

In our first issue of GivingCity, we were extremely fortunate to have an opening essay from Pastor Joseph C. Parker, Jr., of Austin’s David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. I’d heard him speak at an MLK Day of Service the year before, and it struck me how Austin could have such a powerful speaker with such close ties to Martin Luther King, Jr., himself. Hope you enjoy it.

I believe humans have an instinct that flies in the face of what can help us find our true calling. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called it our “drum major instinct,” in that everyone wants to be important, to be first, and to lead the parade.

Watch a group of children try to form a line, and you’ll see this instinct in action. Too many people never outgrow this instinct, Dr. King said, and by constantly struggling to be first, the best and most important or wealthiest or best educated, we forget one of life’s largest truths: that the real path to greatness is through service.

Choosing to serve others as opposed to serving just yourself does not have to be an overwhelming change. In fact, I believe it’s a simple change: All we have to do is take that instinct, which is turned inward, and reprogram it to turn outward to focus on others. I believe that by putting others first – their needs, their causes, their joy – we ourselves can become leaders and consequently find our own joy.

This concept of finding joy by focusing on others is not a new one, but few people are courageous enough to risk their own well being. Those who take that risk, however, marvel at the results. It’s not just the reward; what we learn is that not only is it right to serve others and not only does it lead to our own joy, but it’s also our duty.

It brings to mind the quote from Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund: “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

Years ago I gave up a successful law career to give full-time attention to a pastorate here in Austin. To this day, some people cannot understand why I did it. Actually, I don’t think I could be anything else – I was made to serve, and in this capacity.

My father was also a Baptist pastor, and was a friend of Dr. King, having attended college with him and been a co-founder of the Montgomery Improvement Association. Accordingly, he and my father received the same teachings about service, and my family was influenced by those teachings. When I decided to accept my calling to become a minister, I realized that I had found the spot in my heart that had been burning since I was a young boy growing up in Birmingham, and though I didn’t always understand it, I knew it was there all along.

If you have a burning in your heart to serve, to make change in the world, can this fire be made contagious? Can you burn so deeply that you cause others to catch on fire? Can you not hear the words of Dr. King as he stood in the pulpit of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on February 4, 1968, and preached his sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct?”

“If you want to be important … wonderful. If you want to be recognized…. wonderful. If you want to be great … wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.

“You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” GC

 

 

Still looking for work? How to stand out from the crowd

David Hughen thinks about work differently than most of us do. He’s in HR.

Specifically, he’s a strategic HR consultant and business coach at Austin WorkNet, which means he talks to a lot of people looking for employees and employers. So there’s something to be said for his perspective.

David contributed this to our latest issue of GivingCity Austin, and I thought it was worth excerpting here for those of you who might need a dose of inspiration on your job search. Good luck!

In response to this emerging work dynamic, I’ve rethought how I approach these career discussions. Though I’m happy to have a pay-it-forward discussion with someone about “what’s next,” I need to make it more relevant to our current times. Why go through the motions when the very nature of work is being redefined?

This new approach to work should place an emphasis on how folks who are unemployed, under-employed or  nervously employed can distinguish themselves from the other job seekers and define themselves for the long-term.

We’ve come to know that organizations, whether for-profit or non-profit, are under intense pressure to be effective. Thus, the notion of work is emerging with new definitions.

Noted author Charles Handy has suggested that “working organizations” are not in the position to be an alternative community providing meaning and work for one’s adult life. Instead, Handy’s view is that if we each considered ourselves “self employed” throughout our working life, we would never be unemployed.

So my Starbucks sessions now take a different course. If I can gain the trust of this individual who is anxious, stressed, unsure of the future, and at a low point of confidence, then I press upon them the
following principles:

Become a brand

A deep, honest exploration of your skills, interests and competencies serves as the definition of your “brand.” Turn your brand on by giving it a name (something more creative than “Jan Enterprises,” please!), create a website, a domain name, a logo, business cards, a charter statement.

Think about it. When you’ve met someone at a party and asked “what do you,” the job seeker’s response may be “WelL, I’m looking for a job.” Wouldn’t you be better served by responding to that question with your business card and your brand’s charter?

This takes some exercising of different muscles. But, in time, your brand becomes the essence of who you are.

If you have a traditional job—working for an employer as an employee—then your brand is partially, but not exclusively, defined by that job. You have the luxury of carrying two business cards.

Connect your brand to a nonprofit
Your personal definition gains depth and substance when you share your expertise freely and willingly with organizations
doing good in the community. And when I say “share your expertise” I mean find out how you can help the nonprofit improve its operations by applying your expertise.

This act of giving is a form of personal, mental health. It’s the gift that gives back in a number of ways. Practically speaking, it keeps your chops sharp when you aren’t working a traditional job and gives you access to the nonprofit’s well-connected board of directors. It ties you to people who sacrifice every day to give back to the community for low or no pay. That’s a crucial perspective and a grounding force.

There’s something bigger than you

Having spent 10 years in the world of startup, entrepreneurial companies I’ve come to understand the value of humility. In small, fast-moving organizations, you have the greatest likelihood of fitting in with the team if you carry yourself without a sense of entitlement.

Knowing that there’s something infinitely greater than you in this world provides a different perspective. People are more likely to be associated with you when you present yourself in this manner. It means you’re more willing to flex into new situations. And, when it comes to defining your brand, this sense of humility provides substance that goes beyond definition. It’s who you are no matter how you define your work.

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!