By Irit Umani — Trinity Center, which in 2019 celebrates 20 years of serving our brothers and sisters, remains true to the original mission and heart-centered intention to serve physical, emotional and spiritual needs of our neighbors.
I feel that St. David’s Church is true to living the Gospel in creating this sacred place of service and in supporting it so fully and beautifully for all these years. Without your in-kind support, volunteering, individual financial donors and so many other ways in which we partner, Trinity would not have been able to offer a community center in our midst for people who are homeless. The staff, board of directors, volunteers and, most of all, the people who use Trinity Center are all in deep gratitude to you.
In 2018 we had significant turn-over in staff. Lindsey Sermon, Emily Prince, Lilly Frey and Bruce Scott left our small but mighty staff. For a short time, it seemed like only Diane Holloway and myself were continuing. But, of course, this was a short time of worry. Our current wonderful, dedicated and very professional staff members are:
Irit Umani – Executive Director
Diane Holloway – Communications & Volunteer Coordinator
Christian Rodriguez – Operations Coordinator
Emily Seales – Case Management Supervisor
Eric Anderson – Kitchen Assistant
Emma Petersheim – AmeriCorps Member
By now we are all familiar and flowing with our specific roles and shared commitments and values. We work very well together.
Working with us are interns from social work schools, medical school students each Sunday, nursing school students on Tuesdays – when schools are in session. An average of 43 on-going weekly volunteers work with us in 3-hour-shifts once a week; 50 volunteers served our yearly Christmas party; 490 volunteers from nine churches came in 2018 to offer worship and a shared meal. We offer a worship service every Sunday, no exception.
In total we were graced with 6,565 hours of volunteer service in 2018. This is equivalent to over three full time employees. We thank them/you, each and every one.
Trinity Center is a hub for other service providers to reach out and offer their expertise to our neighbors. Integral Care (mental health services), ECHO’s Coordinated Assessment team, the Food Bank (for food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, TANF eligibility and registration), Communities for Recovery, the HOST team, Community Care (for MAP and other income-based health services), the C.D. Doyle Clinic, V.A. representatives – all use our center each week to offer services.
All of these partners tell us they see more people here at our center than anywhere else. They tell us that folks are more responsive to them when approached here. We believe this is the result of our welcoming and compassionate way with the neighbors. Neighbors feel at home and safe with us and trust other service providers when the services are offered in a place they see as their own community center.
With Emily Prince leaving and Emily Seales entering as Case Management Supervisor, we skipped one semester of having social work interns. This enabled our new, and very good, program supervisor a brief learning curve that, as expected, in having fewer people than usual in case management. This will correct itself and already is in full capacity.
Navigating the big transformational journey out of homelessness requires the help of a case worker and the collaboration of many agencies, especially the ones who offer housing. The lack of Permanent Supportive Housing in Austin is “screaming” lack of justice, even as the city keeps declaring a commitment to end homelessness in Austin. A bond was passed during the November election that will, if materialized, increase available units specifically for our homeless people. We can’t wait! At the same time, we use prayers and hope to deal with our doubting minds.
In 2018 we had 69 neighbors on case management.
27 of them (39%) now receive government benefits that they did not have before.
21 (30%) are now housed.
All received referrals and advocacy with other service providers.
7 students interned in case management at Trinity, and our AmeriCorps member offers case management all year. Ms. Seales, the program supervisor, offers direct case management to a few of the more complex cases and is involved in all of them.
In 2018 we had 22,570 “visits” – duplicated numbers of people coming in. An average of 53 people come for our Sunday Church, and an average of 72 people come to Trinity Center each weekday.
We paid the fees for 1,640 birth certificates and/or Texas ID/driver licenses.
We purchased Greyhound bus tickets for 117 people. We do this in collaboration with other churches and after verifying that a move will indeed end a person’s homelessness.
We gave 2,700 weekly bus passes.
We served 17,320 breakfasts and 3,660 lunches (20,980 meals total), plus 16,050 light snacks.
The above are numbers, good as they are. More importantly, the numbers reflect an organization that accepts all, loves deeply and serves well the most vulnerable and poorest among us.
Special gratitude to the following foundations who awarded grants to Trinity Center in 2018:
Ruth and Paul Connor Foundation
Donald Hammill Foundation
Louisiana Charities Trust
Religious Coalition to Assist the Homeless
Austin Community Foundation – the Georgia Lucas Fund
Emergency Food & Shelter Program (Government) and hundreds of families and individuals whose contributions ranged from $25 to $35,000.
We, the staff, the board of directors and Trinity volunteers, feel very blessed to live a life so filled with gratitude and the opportunity to serve well and care deeply.