The need for services from nonprofits like CAM has only increased in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Director of Development Janet Ryan said.
“Picturing the financial recovery from the coronavirus is truthfully beyond my imagination,” she said. “If you already were barely making it, paycheck to paycheck, and you’ve lost that paycheck, I really can’t imagine it.”
CAM, located at 11202 Huffmeister Road, Houston, relies heavily on volunteers to serve in the food pantry, which is now being offered in a drive-thru format, and to assist clients who need help paying for essentials, such as rent and utilities.
Ryan said many of the organization’s volunteers have elected to stay home during the crisis, but some have been returning as they feel more comfortable being in public. Due to coronavirus restrictions, client meetings are being held on an appointment-only basis or over the phone, she said.
“We have appointments booked through the end of the month,” Ryan said during a May 22 interview. “The need is most definitely out there.”
In addition to these services, CAM also offers GED and ESL classes, which have transitioned to a distance learning option at this time.
Compared to past catastrophic events, such as Hurricane Harvey, Ryan said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a bigger financial impact on the community at large. But despite recent high unemployment rates in Cy-Fair, the organization’s Operation Jobs program is only getting four to five inquiries a week.
“People were out of work for a few days with Harvey, but they weren’t looking at potential long-term [unemployment]. Yet we had more people initially coming for help with Harvey than we are right now, and my guess is that’s due to the unemployment benefits available to families right now [through the Texas Workforce Commission],” Ryan said.
The immediate top priorities for families financially affected during this time is ensuring they have somewhere to live and can put food on the table for their families, according to Ryan. She said families should seek help when they need it, especially when organizations like CAM have resources to offer.
“Of the people that are coming for help right now, whatever their situation, there are so many people right now who have never needed assistance before,” she said. “They’re embarrassed; they are feeling guilty. It doesn’t feel right to go get help with food, for example, because there are people who don’t have anything. And it’s like, 'Well, right now, you don’t have anything, either.' It’s OK to go get help.”
The Cy-Fair community can support CAM by shopping at Angels’ Attic Resale—which funds more than half of all operations—as well as by donating items to the food pantry, contributing financially and volunteeing their time. Learn more at www.cypressassistance.org or call 281-955-7684.