Sunday, Sept. 26 marked our first giveaway at the Mosaic Street Ministry near 183 and McNeil Road. The board has made the decision to move further north because the anti-homeless legislation that passed in May has greatly reduced the number of people we were serving each month, and as of Sept. 26, every tent under the 7th Street and I-35 underpass had been cleared out.
For last month’s giveaway, we had the toiletries/underwear/socks/bug sprays laid out on folding tables in the shape of a horseshoe, with room for about six volunteers behind the table helping people find what they need and making sure items are replenished as needed. We also have three tables for the prepared breakfast that we had been providing in partnership with Better Together which requires about 3-4 people to assist with service and cleanup of the breakfast provided.
While the Mosaic Street Ministry is run by a Christian organization, they share humanist values in wanting to make the unseen feel seen, and showing love and compassion with no strings attached to those who feel forgotten. Austin Humanists at Work remains a secular organization, with a core belief in giving back to our community with human hands solving human problems. Through our work with Mosaic over the past 6+ months, our board members and volunteers have been assured we share similar values and are allies in fighting homelessness and inequality through direct action and mutual aid.
Our new location at Mosaic is beneficial for multiple reasons:
- It is in a cleaner area and more “loving” atmosphere than the underpass we worked before
- Mosaic provides a clothes closet, additional supplies, and helps clients get identification and apply for services. We are adding value to an already noble service project.
For now, our giveaways will last from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at Mosiac Church. There is an extra hour to help our clients, and the slowed pace of shopping from the tables allows for our volunteers to be more personable with our clients, form connections, and make them feel welcome.
It’s important to note that because of this change, we no longer need 20+ or more volunteers once a month. We can employ about 10 volunteers for each giveaway. If you only have space for a giveaway every couple of months, sign up for the times that work for you. Our next giveaway is Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.
Moving forward, longtime volunteer Jennifer Jones will be our volunteer coordinator. She will reach out to you and the other volunteers in the days leading up to the giveaways to coordinate setup and takedown. This will include a need for 2-3 volunteers with vehicles to load up at our storage facility (across the street from McNeil High School, a 5-minute drive to Mosaic) to transport plastic totes with our various offerings. Matt Lutostanski will be managing the storage unit and will be able to load up cars for the giveaway at 8:15 a.m. before the 9 a.m. start time, or on Friday/Saturday leading up to the giveaway. He will also help unload after the giveaway and take inventory of what was used and what was needed.
We thank you for your continued support and hope to see you attend a giveaway very soon. Please get in touch (info at austinhumanistsatwork.org) to volunteer. Although we no longer accept in-kind donations, we are grateful for those supporting humanists in action via PayPal donation.