By: Dr. Rosamaria Murillo, CEO, El Buen Samaritano
About El Buen Samaritano (El Buen): El Buen Samaritano (El Buen) serves the Latino community of Central Texas, and is committed to recognizing the dignity of all by ensuring access to healthcare, education and essential needs that lead to healthy, productive and secure lives.
How has your organization pivoted/adapted during the pandemic?
El Buen has been building healthy resilient communities for more than 30 years. At the onset of the pandemic, El Buen activated our food pantry emergency response operations, pivoted to provide remote-online adult and youth education services, and secured resources to provide access to technology, internet, and financial assistance to our community – all in the span of two days. Currently, El Buen is serving families from every zip code in Austin/Travis County, especially those zip codes most affected by COVID-19.
Throughout these changes we have established an infrastructure that brings together culturally and linguistically competent staff, technology and data systems that allow us to provide human-centered services, connections, and access to resources for thousands of individuals.
How many people does your organization help every month/year? Any volunteers? Has that number changed due to the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, we served approximately 11,000 individuals per year and El Buen’s pantry had about 100 family visits per week. During the pandemic, via our drive-through pantry and home delivery services, we’re serving more than 700 families per week, currently resulting in more than 20,000 family pantry visits – this surpasses what we normally serve in three years. Via our workforce, youth education, and health literacy services, we also reached 900 individuals.
While the need for services and food has astonishing increased, we have experienced a drop in the number of volunteers during the pandemic. However, we’ve still been able to recruit and retain a cohort of 100-150 volunteers that serve in our pantry, education programs and annual Hands for Hope event.
El Buen also became one of the City of Austin’s first five organizations selected to provide access to cash to families affected by COVID-19, serving close to 4,000 families with cash assistance and totaling almost $4 million.
How have you used the Moody Foundation’s recent grant to serve your community during the pandemic?
For the past years, the Moody Foundation has generously supported our food pantry program and Hands for Hope event. Their funding has allowed us to increase our capacity to provide access to food for thousands of individuals living in food deserts and disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The Foundation’s contributions not only allowed us to increase food pantry capacity, but also increased our ability to feed 2,000 families via our end of year flagship event Hands for Hope.
Where can the community go to find more information on how to volunteer, donate to your organization and/or a schedule of upcoming events?
El Buen would not be able to meet the increasing community needs without the support of volunteers and donors that give generously of their time and resources. For information on how to get involved, including how to make a donation or volunteer, call 512.439.8900, email [email protected], or visit our website at https://elbuen.org/.