Over the past week, I’ve had a lot of inquiries. Since COCObundle works with organizations who provide services to our most vulnerable populations it stands to reason that we know what these organizations need to get through the COVID19 crisis. And we do.
What we specialize in (things like bedding, towels and kitchen supplies) are absolutely essential items for making a roof over one's head function as a home. The need for what we do is only going to increase as the fallout from COVID becomes a reality— and we’re busy gearing up to meet this need by building our #CelebrateWithImpact wedding registry (where NearlyWeds can register for gifts that go to those in need).
But at this unprecedented moment in time, our nonprofit partners need triage support.
Are you familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? COCObundle provides resources that are just above the baseline level for human survival, and our extension of support reaches all the way to the top.
As much as I have to gulp to write this, what our most vulnerable populations need now is absolute baseline.
So while we’re busy preparing for what’s coming next, I thought I’d share some ways you can help fulfill some of those baseline needs right now, starting in our home town of Austin.
My team and I work with six local nonprofit partners, each who provide services for various groups of people— from those who've experienced homelessness in the traditional sense of the word, to kids who have aged-out of the foster care system, to girls rescued from sex-trafficking.
Read on to learn what each of these organizations do, and how you can be of help right now.
What they do: Florence Ponziano moved into her East Austin neighborhood of Montopolis over 20 years ago. In response to the daily challenges she and her neighbors face both inside and outside their homes, she founded Florence's Comfort House This house, filled with love, acceptance, and encouragement, enables Florence to reach out to the kids in her community, helping them to make the best of their lives during their youth and beyond.
What they need now: Florence is young at heart but she is in the most at-risk age group for COVID19. The organization would like to make it possible for her refrain from grocery store trips and have asked donors to consider purchasing groceries off their Amazon list, to help keep everyone fed.
AIDS Services of Austin
What they do: ASA helps HIV+ and HIV- people with integrated and patient-centered services from free HIV/STI testing and treatment to oral and medical care. Thousands of the most vulnerable in our community rely on ASA for services, like their Food Bank. Through this crisis, ASA remains committed to ensuring their clients have access to fresh produce and a nutritious meal.
What they need now: ASA has formed a "radical response" which includes augmented services that allow them to continue delivering the life-affirming care they're known for (they've even made free at-home HIV testing available so they can continue to diagnose people living with HIV and connect them to essential resources!) You can help support this effort: here.
Community First! Village
What they do: Community First! Village is a 51-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness. A development of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, this transformative residential program exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets, while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless.
What they need now: As they work to mitigate the risks of this virus on Community First! Village, support is paramount in helping to ensure our neighbors are well cared for. You can give here to help them continue meeting the needs of those who call Community First! their home.
What they do: LifeWorks is focused on caring for Austin's youth, particularly youth experiencing homelessness, who are unsheltered, economically fragile, and vulnerable to trauma.
What they need now: Services have been impacted by the restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather at a time, but their work cannot stop. LifeWorks will continue to deliver housing, workforce and emotional support to hundreds of youth experiencing homelessness. With your help, they can implement additional practices to protect our staff and youth living in our shelters and transitional living programs from COVID-19. You can help, here.
What they do: The Refuge for DMST™ (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking) provides trauma-informed, long-term restoration community with on-site services for girls, minors through age 19, who have been exploited through sex trafficking.
What they need now: The Refuge Ranch asks that while you're provisioning for your family, you consider also helping the girls at The Refuge Ranch if you use AmazonSmile, a simple and automatic way for you to help the mission of The Refuge for DMST every time you shop, at no cost to you. Set The Refuge for DMST as your charity when you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to The Refuge.
What they do: Integral Care improves the lives of adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Travis County.
What they need now: Integral Care suggests that we can help our neighbors experiencing homelessness via The Other Ones Foundation who are currently collecting food bags with calorie dense, non-perishable, single serving items.
Thanks to everyone who has asked how to make a difference right now.
-Kelly LaPlante (founder + CEO)