UT Health Austin calls for contact tracing volunteers, Moody Foundation announces additional $500,000 grant and and more Central Austin community updates

UT Health Austin, located at 1601 Trinity St., has put out a call for volunteers to help with coronavirus contact tracing efforts. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
UT Health Austin, located at 1601 Trinity St., has put out a call for volunteers to help with coronavirus contact tracing efforts. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

UT Health Austin, located at 1601 Trinity St., has put out a call for volunteers to help with coronavirus contact tracing efforts. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

Every month in Community Impact Newspaper is a section called Impacts highlighting businesses opening, coming soon, celebrating anniversaries, relocating or closing.

This month, the editorial team is doing something a little different online. Orders to encourage social distancing, slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect residents have dealt a blow to the local and national economy. A report from the Bureau Labor of Statistics released May 8 showed 23.1 million Americans were unemployed in April, a rate of 14.7%.

Some businesses and nonprofits have started new efforts to keep their neighbors healthy and help those in need. The Central Austin team is highlighting some of those efforts, but there are surely more in the community. If readers know of a local business or nonprofit that is working to help the community get through this time, send an email to ctanews@communityimpact.com.

1. Austin Community Foundation, located at 4315 Guadalupe St., Austin, announced May 1 it had distributed $687,500 to 15 local nonprofits to offset the economic effect of the cancellation of the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals. Grant recipients from the Stand With Austin fund included the Austin Film Society, Big Medium, PeopleFund and the Workers Defense Project. 512-472-4483. www.austincf.org

2. Employees at Google's Austin office, headquartered at 500 W. Second St., Austin, have committed to give $100,000 to raise relief funds for families in the city affected by the coronavirus, according to a May 6 announcement. The funds will provide $1,000 in cash payments to local families in need. The donations will be made through GiveDirectly, which has set up funds for multiple U.S. cities, including Austin. www.givedirectly.org/covid-19/us/austin


3. Grande Communications announced May 4 it will extend a program to offer free internet and Wi-Fi to low-income households through June 30. The company, which has an office at 911 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, originally announced the program on April 6 for all low-income households who sign up for the company's Internet First program—which offers internet services for $9.95 per month to qualifying families. In addition, Grande Communications said it will not terminate service to any customer because of an inability to pay bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. 512-220-4600. www.mygrande.com

4. Helping Hands is a new nonprofit that was created in May to connect people most at risk to the coronavirus with a community of volunteers who can deliver necessary supplies such as groceries and medicine. The founding team of more than 20 includes Neil Patil, a student at The University of Texas, and his brother Yash Patil, a student at Liberal Arts and Science Academy. Users on the website can request a delivery to their home, while volunteers can sign up to help. www.helpinghands.community

5. Heywood Hotel, located at 1906 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin, announced the launch of its "Sleep Well, Do Good" initiative May 7. While the hotel is closed, no employees have been laid off, and all are being paid to volunteer with local nonprofits. The team has assisted nonprofits such as ATX Hospital Meals, Keep Austin Eatin' and Baylor Scott & White Food4Caregivers. 512-271-5522. www.heywoodhotel.com

6. Impact Austin awarded $410,300 in grants to Central Texas nonprofit organizations. The women's philanthropy organization normally announces the winners of its annual grants in June, but this year the votes from its 440 members were cast remotely, and winners were announced May 5 on Giving Tuesday Now—a day of giving nationwide to help those affected by the coronavirus. Award recipients included Casa Marianella, NAMI Central Texas and Austin Child Guidance Center. 512-553-6083. www.impactaustin.org

7. The Moody Foundation announced $500,000 in grants to Central Texas organizations working to help the community through the coronavirus crisis. This is the second round of grant funding the Galveston-based philanthropic foundation has awarded to Central Texas nonprofits after it made a $1 million commitment in late March. Recipients included Austin-based organizations Any Baby Can, Austin Diaper Bank, and Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. www.moodyf.org

8. The Red River Cultural District announced April 28 it has distributed $40,000 in H-E-B gift cards to about 500 Austin-area service industry workers who lost work due to the coronavirus crisis. The district, an organization that represents the interests of live music venues and bars in the Red River area, started its "Banding Together" fundraiser after the cancellation of SXSW. As of May 8 the effort has raised more than $53,000, according to its GoFundMe page. The effort is being led by a team including Cody Cowan, the executive director of the Red River Merchants Association, and Stephen Sternschein, the owner of Empire Control Room and Garage, 606 E. Seventh St., Austin. www.gofundme.com/f/bandingtogether2020

9. Songs for the Soul, an Austin-based nonprofit, announced May 6 it has started a new program called "Soul-a-Grams." The nonprofit connects health care providers with musicians in online workshops, using storytelling and music to address the grief that comes with the health care providers' work. The new program will allow donors to nominate a caregiver to receive a short song expressing the community's gratitude, according to a media release. www.song-soul.org

10. UT Health Austin, the clinical arm of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas located at 1601 Trinity St., Austin, has put out a call for volunteers to help with its contact tracing efforts. When someone in the community tests positive for the coronavirus, their movements and contacts over 14 days are traced back. Volunteers get in touch with those who may have been exposed, ask about symptoms, provide testing recommendations and encourage self-quarantine. According to UT Health Austin, more than 100 volunteers have already signed up, but many more are needed to help provide more information to the community more quickly about the spread of the virus. Public health, social work, clinical or bilingual experience is a plus but is not required. 833-882-2737. www.uthealthaustin.org

11. The YMCA of Austin, in partnership with Austin ISD, will offer child care for essential workers beginning May 11 at Galindo Elementary School, 3800 S. Second St., Austin. The program is open for children ages 5-12, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The cost is $150 per week, and financial assistance is available, according to the YMCA. In addition to this new program, the YMCA is continuing to offer child care with Extend-A-Care at its locations in Southwest Austin, East Austin and Buda. https://austinymca.org
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


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