@ St. David’s Episcopal Church
301 E. 8th Street
Austin, Texas. 78701
Trinity Center’s report 2020
The year of COVID19
We started the year with an assumption that we would keep serving our un-housed neighbors just like we have done for over twenty years. We surely could not have imagined that life as we knew it would be changed radically by a virus that made it unsafe to gather in groups. We started the year being a navigation center, service provider, a church, and overall a community that would meet our brothers and sisters right where they are to help them make progress through our support, guidance, advocacy, compassion, and professional knowledge. In early March the whole country came to a standstill as it tried to figure out how to respond to the pandemic that made our previous way of operation potentially detrimental to one’s life.
On Friday, March 20th, all of the staff and board members met and ultimately decided to close down the center. This meant that the neighbors would have no access to their mail, meals, and many other very essential services. For the first week Trinity Center was closed for all services except mail. In the second week we resumed serving breakfast, though in a different way—outside the gym’s door in take-away boxes. Three staff people were available each day and three worked remotely. Within a month, all but one staff member returned to the center.
This very challenging year has just ended. Not only have we resumed all services that we offered prior to the pandemic, but we have also increased the number of people served, meals given out, as well as offer things that we did not do in prior years. It breaks our hearts and confuses our minds that we cannot just open our main 7th St. door and invite 70 people to hang-out and be a community. Yet, our minds and hearts never stopped evaluating what more we can do and how to keep being a community with our brothers and sisters; to offer the balm of care to people who are the most marginalized amongst us.
Each Monday one can see a very long line of folks waiting on E.7th St. for the 80-100 free week-long bus passes that we give. The line then moves onto Trinity St. for takeaway breakfast at 9AM. At 10AM women are lining up for clothes, toiletries, new underwear, socks, and more. Monday is a busy day; there may be three neighbors at distanced-placed computers, one or two e in case management meetings, and two using the available phones.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we offer financial assistance with ID and other essential documents; we helped a lot of people applying for the stimulus checks that the government gave earlier this year; we pay for Greyhound bus tickets after verifying that a move will indeed end a person’s homelessness. In the last few months, we have been helping people who are housed but are deeply poor, or lost employment because of the pandemic, with their rent and utility bills.
We keep the required distance, wear masks, and disinfect surfaces between uses. All staff has been tested numerous times for the virus, at least monthly, and we are grateful beyond expression that to date none of us got infected with this vicious virus. On our last working day of the year, December 30th, four of us who were in town received the first of two COVID vaccine. The two that were out of town will get theirs on the next time it will be made available to homeless service providers. It felt like a great validation of our essential work during this very challenging risk-taking time.
In 2020 we served a total of 28,530 meals
We paid for 440 Texas ID, 113 Driver licenses, 512 Birth Certificates, 72 other documents.
We purchased 84 Greyhound bus tickets to locations all over the country, ending those individuals homelessness.
We handed out 4,070 week-long local bus passes (for two months Cap Metro busses were free for all).
Case Management: With the many effects of the pandemic, the one number in which we saw a decrease in was case management. Clients were harder to reach, some gave up hope on securing housing, and on the other hand the city put many homeless people in motels for few months. Still, we had a total of 62 people on case management and we accomplished more with the ones who were on case management
21 were housed (33.8%)
19 had some work, some income (30%)
15 signed up and are now receiving SSI or SSDI (24%)
35 now receive SNAP or Food Stamps (56%)
26 signed up for Medical Assistance Program (42%)
37 got their ID document(s) (59%)
300 referrals and advocacy with other services were made.
Throughout this challenging year our commitment to serve well and to remain compassionate in our relationships with the neighbors never changed, rather it increased, and we supported each other and remained deeply committed. I am proud to belong with the Trinity Center’s team.
Diane Holloway and Emily Seales left their jobs at the Trinity Center. We promoted Valerie Leal to the role of Case Management Supervisor and hired Emily Britz as a Case Management Social Worker. James Gorman, kitchen master, moved from hourly position to exempt employee with benefits. We work very well as a dedicated and able team. This year we are especially grateful to the much shorter list of volunteers who kept on serving with us, even as the pandemic was and continues to rage across the country. They are: Gay Guthrey, Jonathan Gribetz, Merrell Ann Shearer, Ann Pearson, Gaye Polan, Caitlin Maher, Catherine Robb, Heather Becker, Cissy & Mark Warner, Martha DeGrasse, Jason Palo, Edwin Williams, Jim Enelow, Jennifer Scariano, Molly Bennet, Paul Mullen—Thank you one and all.
I pray and hope for 2021 to be less intense, simpler, and flowing with ease. We all are looking forward to a time in 2021 when we can throw our doors open and let people come in to hang out, be fed, receive services, make progress, and feel cared for and loved.
Irit Umani – Executive Director
“Love everyone, serve everyone, and Remember God” Neem Karoli Baba