'Ayuda' program launched to help Latino community during pandemic
AUSTIN, Texas - Once the pandemic hit, it didn’t take long for Diana Anzaldua and Jason Rubio to see the toll the life-threatening virus had on their family and the community. COVID-19 brought to light health disparities in both the black and brown communities.
In Travis County, Hispanics accounted for at least 70% of COVID-19 hospitalizations back in June. Meanwhile, only 33%of people identify as Hispanic in Travis County.
Many factors play into why Hispanics are disproportionately impacted such as underlying health conditions, limited access to health care, and people living in multigenerational households.
“We decided we need to do something to help people, help people stay home and healthy,” said Anzaldua. “The Latinos are often forgotten and invisible even though our majority of essential workers are Latino.”
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In order to prevent further spreading the life-threatening virus, health officials advised the public to social distance, stay home, and limit contact with others. Rubio noted there are not enough errand services like Instacart or Grubhub available in Spanish.
The couple created a Facebook page called “Ayuda” or 'help' in Spanish and within the first week, 500 members joined. Families who needed errands posted or directly messaged Ayuda and the couple paired them up with an approved helper who could assist.
“All of our stuff is offered in English and Spanish because it’s 2020 and we realize there are not very many services targeted towards the Spanish population which we thought was odd,” said Rubio.
Over time, the page developed into a resource hub for the Latino community in Austin. “Resources like hey there’s free food here, Austin ISD is doing this or there are different things happening for COVID testing, PPE giveaways,” said Rubio. “We have been a part of a lot of the local things and people know when they see it on Ayuda this is something they can trust.”
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The couple developed a website to list local resources available to the public soon there will be an app as well.
Ayuda has been so successful Rubio and Anzaldua have shared their concept with other cities in the U.S and other Spanish speaking countries. “We’ve gotten a lot of emails from people saying thank you so much for doing this,” said Anzaldua. “It seems like for the first time there’s something for Spanish speakers.”