AUSTIN, Texas - Between the pandemic and the winter storms, it's been non-stop for local nonprofits serving the community.
Amplify Austin - 24 hours of focused giving to these deserving organizations - kicked off on Thursday.
That includes organizations like Meals on Wheels Central Texas. Along with keeping seniors fed, MOWCTX has spent more than a decade repairing homes in Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Burnet, Blanco, and Fayette counties.
"My wife and I were delivering meals and we saw the conditions of these homes and we thought, we got to do more than what we’re doing," said Charles Cloutman, vice president of the Home Repair program.
Cloutman was overseeing the restoration of a home in East Austin on Thursday, one of many older homes they've helped restore. The winter storms only upped demand. "We’ve got 30 houses we’re doing right now, with storm damage, broken water pipes," said Cloutman.
The service is completely free to homeowners, courtesy of grants and city funding for winter storm emergency relief.
Since the winter storms, the Home Repair program has helped one homeowner in East Austin whose bathroom roof caved during the storm, along with two older adults in Manor and Kyle that had water pipes burst in their homes.
For those struggling financially and in need of home repairs, Cloutman encourages them to give the Home Repair program at Meals on Wheels Central Texas a call at 512-628-8171. "It doesn’t cost anybody a dime," he said. "We don’t know you’re out there, so call us and if we can’t help you, we can find someone who can."
Meals on Wheels is not the only nonprofit that has experienced a two-fold challenge over the past year. The Central Texas Food Bank saw a surge in demand when the pandemic started. CEO Derrick Chubbs said it has still not gone back to pre-COVID levels, and they don’t expect it to.
"The last couple of weeks as you can imagine took that to a brand new level," said Chubbs. "We were strained before, but now our resources are strained like never before."
At the Central Texas Food Bank, they started building an inventory of food right when the pandemic started. But even with that, it was a struggle to meet demand, because demand was everywhere. "When groceries or retail stores are unable to donate, we have to go and buy it," said Chubbs.
He said pre-COVID-19, they would spend about $100,000 a month purchasing food from farms and food retailers. They’re now spending close to, or more than, $1 million each month on food, sometimes competing with grocery stores. Because of the winter storms, they’re anticipating more supply chain challenges, not just in the short term but the long term.
"There’s likely to be a supply issue around fresh fruits and vegetables within the next couple of months," said Chubbs. "We’ll likely find ourselves in a position again when we are almost competing with each other to purchase food that is available."
While they are grateful for the community’s support, they are still in need of donations as well as volunteers. "We’re the largest hunger relief agency in central Texas, and we want to make sure the pandemic doesn’t take us down," he said.
To donate through Amplify Austin, click here.