This past year has been nothing like anything our organization has experienced, with unforseen challenges that alsobrought new partnerships and procedures. We are thankful to donors, volunteers and community members who have stuck it out in 2020 with us as we continue to work toward our mission of helping humans with no strings attched. There is so many positive highlights we’d like to spotlight in our annual year in review.
Austin Humanists at Work has been reaching out to our neighbors living outside since 2014 when our group organized. Giveaways have been the core service of our organization’s monthly events. Over time, we have morphed to do many other things, connected with many other people organizations, and gained new knowledge, outreach opportunities, and partnerships.
In 2020, we managed to modify our giveaways and had nine out of the total twelve giveaway events. Looking back, January and February giveaways were like any other year. Entering March, the world was experiencing the beginnings of what would shape our year and change modern life. Local organizations, agencies, and non-profits either stopped functioning, or had to make quick adjustments how to proceeded in public. With everyone’s health in mind, our organization canceled our giveaways for March, April, and May. Trying to keep those we serve and our families safe, we watched how other larger organizations and agencies proceeded given the unprecedented events unfolding. For an organization that was highly active and engaged in the community, it was a hard decision to not support our clients during a difficult time. The board of directors strategized how to safely proceed and decided to make bagged kits with our staple items: toiletries, socks, garbage bags, and grab-and-go foods.
In June, July, and August we recalibrated giveaways, using wagons to distribute bags along with several gathering spots in Central Austin. By September, we were ready to start our yearly Winter Warmth Drive, handing out items a month early knowing the need to be prepared for unpredictable weather in Texas. Come October through December, our ongoing gratitude grew. Some large donations came through with impeccable timing to help our clients stay warm through the winter months. The ATXHAW Winter Warmth Drive continues through February. We are seeking out coats, blankets, gloves, and other warm articles of clothing for our neighbors living outside.
The reach of our nonprofit stretched in 2020 in light of unforeseen challenges. Our organization has partnered with some amazing people and agencies to make this possible. One major way was through EAT bag distribution starting in the second half of the year. The city’s public health department bundles shelf-stable foods and Austin Humanists at Work volunteers distribute the bags among camps in North Austin. Every weekend for more than four months, and continued into 2021, one or two handfuls of volunteers mask-up for food drop-offs and check-ins with individuals dwelling along I-35 and other major corridors. Through this, our volunteers have built trust with those we serve and also expanded the impact of Austin Humanists at Work. We are hopeful there will be more expansion on our mission as we evaluate how we can best serve the community in 2021.