Tinny Widjaja- May 11, 2020

Social distancing during this Covid-19 pandemic crisis has highlighted even more the need for true compassion, human connection, and interdependence.

As Co-Founder of Interfaith Ambassadors of Lake Travis (IAMLT), I have been working with its Board members to help over 130 at risk and marginalized families in Hudson Bend and Lake Travis greater area for the last 3 years. These families needed help before the pandemic, and more so now. Most of them have lost their low paying jobs or have their work hours significantly reduced. School was closed and Central Texas Food Bank also temporarily stopped its monthly mobile pantry for the community.  IAMLT promptly mobilized and started a campaign to help with food insecurity and living expenses.

The call for help was quickly answered by Lake Travis community and IAMLT members such as the Presbyterian Church of Lake Travis, Spirit in the Hills Lutheran Church, Buddhist FGS Xiang Yun Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Islamic Center of Lake Travis. Donations started pouring in and have been used to place food orders with Mobile Loaves and Fishes and have been distributed to families by IAMLT volunteers, while practicing safe social distancing.

Other generous nonprofits followed, such as the Austin Chinese American Network with weekly homemade lunches and Keep Austin Fed with packaged meals and staples. Kind individuals such as Judge Dimple Malhotra of County Law 4 connected IAMLT to KDH Giving Fund that started the fundraising campaign “Poderosa Grant Initiative” and a volunteers recruitment to support IAMLT’s ongoing mission effort.

The City of Austin City announced a $15 million dollar stimulus package RISE (Relief In a State of Emergency) Fund in April specifically to help families and individuals that lack access to safety nets such as unemployment benefits. With the help of Asian Family Support Services of Austin, as one of the recipients of the RISE Fund, IAMLT “RISE N SHINE” volunteers facilitated the application for their families. Assistance can be used to help with food access, medical and behavioral health services, mortgage or rental assistance, assistance with utility bills, child care or dependent care services, and diapers and baby formula.