Author: Madyson Russell

3 Ways To Live United During COVID-19

Now is the time to Live United. So many of us are facing economic, social, and health hardships caused by COVID-19, and it’s more important than ever for us to face those challenges together. And there are many ways you can Live United by helping individuals and families in our community who are struggling due to COVID-19 school closures, reduced work hours and more. Check out three ways you can give back below.    1. Give to the All Together ATX Fund.     We are partnering with Austin Community Foundation to bring relief to our community through the All Together ATX Fund. The fund will accept donations large and small from individuals, foundations, and companies and will provide critical services, like basic needs, health services, and childcare. Grant recipients will include 501(c)(3) organizations, units of government, or faith communities in Central Texas. All Together ATX will support nonprofits’ ability to address the impacts of COVID-19 and maintain delivery of services and bring much-needed relief to our community. Every dollar counts. Donate today.    2. Advocate for nonprofits and our community.    In these uncertain times, your voice is more important than ever. From essential workers to nonprofits, our community is being stretched beyond our wildest imagination and needs relief. Congress must support charitable organizations so we can continue to support our communities. Follow us on social media (@UnitedWayATX) and we will share timely opportunities with guidance from awesome advocates like United Ways of Texas, Texans Care for Children and more.  […]

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5 ways to practice self-care during quarantine 

In these uncertain times, it can be difficult and daunting to weed through the congested news cycle – but I have good news! There are endless ways we can stay connected and calm while we shelter in place. Check out these 5 ways to practice self-care while Austin is under a shelter in place order. I hope they are a small reminder that we are all in this together, even if we’re six feet apart.  1 – Give meditation a try Meditation is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and promote emotional health. It benefits our mind to be in tune with what our body is feeling, and meditation is designed to do just that. I like to close my eyes and listen to a guided meditation as a way to start my day – even just five minutes of mediation can make a difference for your day.  Pro tip: Check out these free resources from the Calm and Headspace apps.   2 – Take a social media break Sometimes boundaries look like taking a step back. Try creating guidelines for yourself about when and how much media you consume. I have been limiting my media intake by structuring my scrolling time to only a few times a day. By being more conscious about your media intake, you can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.  Pro tip: You don’t have to click on every link you receive about the Coronavirus in your group chat.  3 – Try a virtual hangout with […]

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Let’s do this, All Together ATX

Hi Friends, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe, healthy, and finding ways to stay connected in this unprecedented time. So many of us are facing economic, social, and health hardships caused by COVID-19, and it’s more important than ever for us to face those challenges together. The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting life as we know it. From school closures to layoffs, now more than ever people are in need of support. Local nonprofits are on the front lines, supporting local workers and those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. I’ve been watching the news and wondering, “What can I do to help?” I’m heartened by how many have reached out to ask the same question. That’s why, in an effort to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way for Greater Austin is partnering with Austin Community Foundation to create All Together ATX. Join us in lifting all Central Texans and the organizations that support them. Your donation will support people in the Greater Austin area with immediate needs including food insecurity, basic needs, medical needs, employment, and child care. 100% will stay local, and 100% will go to help those who need it most. This community-led philanthropic fund will provide flexible resources to nonprofit organizations working with communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the outbreak. We will one day be on the other side of this. Right now, we hold the power to define who we’ll be on that day: More fractured and […]

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An update on how we’re responding to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting life as we know it. Join Austin Community Foundation and United Way for Greater Austin to provide critical services, like basic needs, health services, and childcare. Give now.  Dear Friends, I hope you and your family have everything you need right now, and that you’re healthy and well. The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything our community or world has experienced. It’s disrupting schools and employment and leaving more people in need of support than ever before. It’s also revealing how interconnected we are, and how much we need each other. For nearly 100 years, United Way for Greater Austin has been dedicated to those in our community who are suffering and creating opportunity for all people, children, and families. The work we’ve been doing all along has prepared us for this moment. Here are some of the things we’ve done just over the past week – things that seemed impossible, but that you made possible: Our 2-1-1 team is responding to increased calls for questions and help around COVID-19, and help in general. The Governor has said that 2-1-1 is THE place to go for information on COVID-19. People need to know where to go for food, information on testing, health services, and so many other needs. 2-1-1 is working around the clock to make sure callers in need are connected to accurate and up-to-date information. We’re working furiously to support child care providers. This ranges from coordinating with child care providers to assess their needs to mobilizing the business community in advocacy efforts to reallocating targeted grant funding to early childhood education partners facing […]

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United Way for Greater Austin Responds to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting life as we know it. Join Austin Community Foundation and United Way for Greater Austin to provide critical services, like basic needs, health services, and childcare. Give now.  Friends, Here at United Way for Greater Austin, health and well-being are a top priority. With day-by-day and sometimes hour-by-hour updates related to COVID-19, let’s take a few minutes to build community – albeit virtually – together. Whether you’re working from home like our United Way team or seeing events canceled from your calendar, everything can feel a little uncertain. Now is an opportunity for us to Live United, and there are ways for us to Live United without coming together in person.  Connection with friends, family, and community builds resilience. We need each other and now is an opportunity to create new ways to connect even while we isolate ourselves physically from large gatherings. I encourage you to read something every day that reminds you of some of the infinite ways we are connected and stay in touch with your family, friends, and colleagues to share your experience as we all navigate this time together. Here are a few reminders we shared with our United Way team based on recommendations from public health officials: Take steps to protect yourself. Here are some helpful tips.  Stay informed. The CDC is updating their site with the latest information. Care for your mental health. In addition to taking care of our physical health, it’s important to take care of […]

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A new way to navigate the social service system

It’s a very exciting day at United Way for Greater Austin! Today we are launching a new initiative that seeks to change the way we navigate the social service sector and you’re in luck – you get to learn about this exciting new system straight from the source. Introducing Gyllian Garvey, Navigation Center Community Integration Director and the driving force behind ConnectATX.  I spent the past four years as a Child Life Specialist, educating children and families about new diagnoses and experiences that come along with being hospitalized. In this role, I found myself discovering an immense need in our city to connect children and their families to support services and programs at a time of hurt, struggle, and financial burden. A Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) assessment during a quick visit to the Emergency Department often uncovered that the family did not have enough food to get through the evening. A new childhood cancer diagnosis has an ongoing list of challenges and changes the family will be faced with, but lack of transportation to get to weekly clinic and chemotherapy appointments was often an unnecessary barrier to the child receiving the best treatment possible.  I kept thinking… providing social workers, child life specialists, and case managers with a local online social services tool will allow a quicker and seamless way to connect families to the resources they need most, like emergency food and medical transportation.   My experiences alone are enough to say that there is a tremendous need for […]

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Celebrating 2-1-1 Day 2020: Meet dedicated members of the 2-1-1 team

For those of you who are familiar with 2-1-1, you know it is a powerful service. In Central Texas, 2-1-1 is leveraged by thousands of people stretching a 10-County region from Bastrop to Llano and beyond. Every day, people who work hard, but still struggle to make ends meet contact 2-1-1 to access free and confidential services for food, healthcare, transportation, and more.  Today, on National 2-1-1 Day, we are celebrating our fearless and dedicated staff. No matter the situation, the 2-1-1 team listens, identifies underlying problems, and connects people with resources and services in our community – but most importantly they exercise empathy. Keep reading to hear from three dedicated 2-1-1 team members about how working for this service has changed their lives.  For 11-year veteran Jessica Venson, Director of Client Services, amazement was her first impression of 2-1-1.  “The fact that my job was to listen to people’s stories, help them problem solve possible solutions and then also be able to provide them with a direction was unreal,” Jessica said. “It didn’t seem like this could actually be a real job…. a place where I could genuinely show my concern or care, and find ways to support others in my community.” After transitioning to the 2-1-1 team in August of 2019, 2-1-1 Call Specialist Cassie Gallardo said her eyes were opened to the depth of the need in Central Texas.  “Before I started working United Way ATX, I was a struggling mother and I contacted 2-1-1 for help,” […]

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An Afternoon with Local Philanthropy Legend Earl Maxwell

-Ashley Haustein, Director of Marketing and Communications I recently had a chance to sit down with Earl Maxwell, CEO at St. David’s Foundation here in Austin, TX. We talked about Earl’s views on philanthropy, the partnership between our two organizations, and — as Earl prepares for retirement — his words of wisdom for the next generation of philanthropists. Q: What people and experiences shaped your views on philanthropy? Really it goes back to my grandparents. They were always giving back and helping people. Their philanthropy was confined to their church, family, and neighborhood. I remember they were always putting people up… they had a rollaway bed that people would sleep on as they were looking for a job. My mom was also really generous. She was a Registered Nurse, and she served as our neighborhood nurse. I grew up with this idea of giving back front and center. Right out of college, I went to go work for Deloitte. On the last day of my training, the local Partner Bob Cruikshank came in to talk with us. He talked about the importance of being involved in the community. I remember leaving that training thinking, “That’s the kind of CPA I want to become.” Q: St. David’s Foundation is “building the healthiest community in the world.” That’s awesome. Tell me a little bit about the challenges Austin faces in the arena of health and how St. David’s Foundation is working to address those challenges. Our community’s challenges in health are huge, […]

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