Community updates: Jackie Venson to play livestreamed benefit show for Austin nonprofits, Capital Metro uses buses as Wi-Fi hot spots and more

Capital Metro is using its MetroAccess buses as mobile hot spots to provide internet to areas of need. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro is using its MetroAccess buses as mobile hot spots to provide internet to areas of need. (Courtesy Capital Metro)

Capital Metro is using its MetroAccess buses as mobile hot spots to provide internet to areas of need. (Courtesy Capital Metro)

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

1. Austin Diaper Bank, located at 8711 Burnet Road, Ste. B34, Austin, announced the dates of three upcoming distributions to be held May 22, June 5 and June 19 from 9:30-11 a.m. Since March, the nonprofit has held six distributions to help families who have been economically impacted by the coronavirus. The events helped more than 3,400 families receive more than 160,000 diapers, according to the ADB. 512-710-7232.

2. Broadway Bank launched an online giving campaign in May to provide funds to The Settlement Home for Children and in Austin and The Children's Shelter in San Antonio. Through May 31, the San Antonio-based bank will match up to $10,000 in donations to each nonprofit. The Settlement Home and The Children's Shelter both provide safe places for children who have experienced trauma. Broadway Bank's Austin location is at 911 W. 38th St. 512-465-6550.

3. Capital Metro has partnered with Austin ISD to provide Wi-Fi hot spots to students living in two neighborhoods of need. AISD has been using 110 of its buses to provide internet access to students across the district to help them access the internet during the school from 8 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Cap Metro will have MetroAccess buses from 2-8 p.m. at A. Springdale Gardens, 1054 Springdale Road, Austin, and B. East Austin College Prep, 5800 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin. The public transit agency said it is working with AISD to add additional vehicles in the future. 512-474-1200.

4. Austin musician Jackie Venson will play a livestreamed concert May 20 at 9:30 p.m. that will coincide with a live auction to raise funds for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Housing Opportunities for Musicians and Entertainers and the SIMS Foundation. The three nonprofits work to support the Austin music community by providing services such as health insurance, mental health care and housing. The auction, which includes three exclusive guitars, is open through May 21 at noon. The concert can be streamed at Venson's Facebook page:

5. Merch Aid is a new initiative launched in Austin as of May that gives the community a new way to support businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The project pairs a designer with a local business to create merchandise such as T-shirts and prints. The project started in New York and has since expanded to Austin. Current businesses offering merchandise in Austin include Bouldin Creek Cafe, End of an Ear and Mothers Cafe.

6. Outdoorsy, an Austin-based company providing RV rentals and outdoor experiences, announced a program May 15 to give free road trips to health care workers once it is safe to travel and the peak of the coronavirus pandemic has passed. For every trip a customer books on Outdoorsy through June 30, the company will match with a free trip for a health care worker to recuperate and destress. Nominations for health care workers can be submitted at the company's website. 877-723-7232.

7. Save ATX Eats, an online platform to help local restaurants through the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, launched May 15. The website will allow diners to buy to-go meals, gift cards and unique experiences—such as a date night package from House Wine for $60, a wine and cocktail sampler from L'Oca D'Oro for $110 or frozen dumpling packs from Wu Chow for $27. The Austin effort is part of the larger Save the Eats campaign, a national effort to help restaurants survive.

8. The SIMS Foundation, a nonprofit at 3010 S. Lamar Blvd., Ste., B, that provides mental health and substance use recovery resources for musicians, is presenting a virtual concert series called "Sofa Sessions" throughout May, in conjunction with mental health awareness month. The shows are available on Facebook Live, Instagram and YouTube. Upcoming shows will include Outasight, Kristian Attard and Night Glitter. Viewers can donate by calling 512-472-1008 or visiting

9. Austin resident Kate Aoueille launched the Sunny Days Ahead project May 5, giving Austin residents a way to invest in small businesses and enter a raffle for experience-based prizes. People can make donations at the project's website, and for each donation Sunny Days Ahead will provide 10 meals to those in need via the Central Texas Food Bank. Donations are not required to enter the raffle, but the organizers hope that individuals can give back to help local businesses stay alive. Prizes include access to five ticketed events, a $100 gift card at BookPeople and a mimosa kit with a pass to skip the brunch line for a year at Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden.
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


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