From El Buen Samaritano, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:
El Buen Samaritano is an outreach ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas committed to helping Latino and other families in Central Texas lead healthy, productive and secure lives through high-quality family literacy programs, food assistance, economic-stability services, health education, as well as access to health care.
We’ve been a trusted resource for the Latino and Spanish-speaking immigrant community in Austin for more than 30 years. Ninety percent of the families we serve are Latino, and 93% of our clients live on incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level.
During normal operations, El Buen provides education programs like ESL and digital literacy classes, workforce development, child and adolescent development programs like after-school tutoring and summer camps, access to health services, access to healthy food at no cost, and organic gardening. These services are provided by bilingual bicultural staff that includes community health workers (CHWs), volunteers, and health and social services practitioners. In FY19, El Buen served more than 6,000 individuals across these programs, including more than 4,000 in our food pantry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted the Latino and immigrant community financially, and many families are unable to cover their basic needs. In response, El Buen is currently sourcing more than to 6,000 pounds of food donations weekly from the Central Texas Food Bank, local partners, and individual donors in order to provide access to the healthy, high-quality nutrition that so many in our community need. On pantry service days, we provide bags of dry food like bread, cereal, rice, beans, and canned goods, as well as bags of fresh food like greens, fruits, root vegetables, milk, and eggs at no cost to each family, often depleting our pantry stock within the first hour and a half of service. When donated, we also provide diapers, pet food, and basic needs like toilet paper.
Since establishing our emergency food pantry operations on March 13, El Buen has provided more than 87,000 pounds of food to more than 4,500 families in Austin. Before COVID-19, El Buen’s pantry served about 100 families per week. Currently, we are serving more than 450 families per week, and in the past six weeks have served more families than we would normally serve in 18 months.
Our pantry is run by a small group of staff and volunteers who pick up, unpack, and distribute food to families, in addition to other tasks like maintaining our community garden and office administrative functions.
We know that many families can’t reach us due to health, transportation, or financial barriers, so we’re working with partner organizations like AVANCE, SAFE, iACT, Lone Star Circle of Care, Lifeworks, and Refugee Services of Texas-Austin, to reach further into our community. Through these partnerships we are increasing access to food for families and individuals that are not able to come to El Buen’s pantry. Every week, these organizations are able to submit an order of food for their families – we prepare the orders and make them available to the organizations so they can then distribute to the families they serve.
HOW CAN I HELP?
If you’re interested in supporting El Buen’s emergency response efforts, please consider one of the following options:
· Monetary Donations: donations allow us to stay flexible and allocate resources to our most urgent needs, whether it’s food for our pantry, PPE for our staff, or sanitation supplies for our building.
o Give online at www.elbuen.org/donate
o Send us a check to 7000 Woodhue Dr, Austin, TX 78745
· Volunteers: El Buen is grateful to have had about 30 volunteers join us since the pandemic started, and is always looking to recruit more.
o Volunteers help us by:
§ Bagging food in our pantry
§ Managing traffic on pantry service days
§ Harvesting and weeding in our community garden
§ Answering phones or performing other office admin work
§ Working with our youth students over Zoom
o Many of the families we serve speak primarily Spanish, so we especially love when bilingual volunteers can join us.
§ To sign up to volunteer, go to elbuen.org/volunteer
· Personal Protective Equipment and Sanitation supplies: PPE is critical to the health and well-being of our staff and volunteers, and cleaning/sanitation supplies ensure we can follow CDC guidelines to provide a safe and healthy work environment. We are accepting donations of:
o Masks – especially N95 masks
o Hand sanitizer
o Disinfecting wipes
o Disinfecting sprays
§ You can schedule a donation drop off or pickup with Amanda Doenges, our Associate Director of Health Literacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please visit www.elbuen.org or call us at 512-439-8900.