Coronavirus: Katy-area nonprofits continue helping community but in need of volunteers, donations

Katy Cristian Ministries
Volunteer Lee Stranathan from Church of The Holy Apostles loads groceries from the Katy Christian Ministries' food pantry to a community member's vehicle March 16. (Courtesy Katy Cristian Ministries)

Volunteer Lee Stranathan from Church of The Holy Apostles loads groceries from the Katy Christian Ministries' food pantry to a community member's vehicle March 16. (Courtesy Katy Cristian Ministries)

As Katy-area residents hunker down for social isolation, several Katy-area nonprofits are responding to the coronavirus or changing procedures.

Katy Christian Ministries has crafted a response plan for March 16-April 6 so that it can continue to help those in need, KCM Executive Director Deysi Crespo said.

Social services and its crisis center will not accept walk-in clients, and staff will conduct interviews, assessments and counseling via phone, per a press release.

KCM’s food pantry is supplying families with items in a grab-and-go style in which staff and volunteers load premade grocery bags into cars on a first-come, first-served basis at 5504 First St., Katy, per the release.

Crespo said that between 9-11:45 p.m on March 16, KCM’s food pantry supplied about 40 households.

“The food operations are outside, and it’s running so smoothly,” Crespo said. “We don’t want people to panic. ... There’s a family waiting here patiently [to be helped.] There’s been no arguing, no fighting, no hoarding. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, very humble. There’s a lot of gratitude.”

Crespo said last week—when Texas, Harris and Fort Bend counties signed emergency declarations—the nonprofit operated as normal with its usual numbers of clients and families. She said the number of individuals and families needing help may likely increase in the coming weeks.

“There are families who are hourly workers, and they can’t go to work, so their financial situation will change,” she said. “I do anticipate families will find themselves in financial hardships and will look for resources.”

KCM can help provide food and financial help if it has the funds, she said.

Retail sales at the nonprofit’s resale shops—located at 23232 Kingsland Blvd., Katy, and 5510 First St., Katy—are experiencing declines in sales, and the nonprofit relies heavily on the stores to fund operations, she said.

“It is a blessing to be here, but without community support, we cannot help,” she said, adding the nonprofit has also experienced a decline in volunteers.

Crespo urged Katy-area residents to donate items, financial resources or time as they can.

Helping the uninsured

Christ Clinic, a nonprofit that serves low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients, has made several changes to its operations, Christ Clinic Executive Director Lara Hamilton said.

Christ Clinic is prioritizing the Katy area’s most vulnerable population—those who are over 60 years old or have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease or a compromised immune system—she said.

The clinic is screening all patients via phone call for the coronavirus and vulnerabilities of the virus, and it is encouraging telemedicine to limit physical contact as much as possible, Hamilton said. Before the coronavirus, about one-third of patients were walk-ins to the location at 25722 Kingsland Blvd., Ste. 111, Katy.

“[All Katy-area residents] should definitely be calling their provider before going [physical to a doctor’s office if they think they may have coronavirus],” she suggested. “Call to get recommendations, stay informed and listen to the recommendations.”

Christ Clinic has also devoted six of 23 clinical staff members and seven out of 14 exam rooms for patients who are vulnerable to the virus, Hamilton said.

“We’re doing the best we can to protect our organization as a whole: clients, staff, volunteers and finances,” she said. “There’s no way to be fully prepared for a situation like this when you’re serving a population that doesn’t fit into the heath care system.”

Hamilton added that the coronavirus will put a strain on the nonprofit’s finances. She expects fundraising events will be canceled, and if a staff member contracts the coronavirus and cannot work, the nonprofit will still pay the employee’s salary.

“We would appreciate everyone’ s patience as we address our needs,” Hamilton said.

Plea for help

Similar to KCM, Citizens for Animal Protection is also seeing a downturn in volunteers, CAP Executive Director Sandi Mercado said.

This means staff must ensure all duties—such as walking dogs twice per day—are performed with less help at the animal shelter located at 17555 Katy Freeway, Katy, she said.

CAP canceled all group activities but has not changed its adoption policies yet, Mercado said. Adoption numbers have only slowed a little, and the shelter is encouraging animal fostering as residents are quarantined or participating in socially distancing. The shelter is offering one-on-one training for new foster families.

“[We’re] sending out a plea for fostering because once we’re full, we have to turn people [and their pets] away,” Mercado said. “We’re worried people will dump the animals.”

She also urged Katy-area to consider donating to the shelter to help pay employees that are working overtime to cover all duties and cover cleaning supplies.

“We provide the same level of care to animals year-round,” Mercado said. “It’s just taking longer.”

Business as usual

Meanwhile, Katy Cares—a local nonprofit providing housing for single mothers and their children experiencing situational homelessness—is also operating more or less as usual, Katy Cares Program Director Carousel Pieterse said.

“Social distance is not an excuse to stop connectivity,” she said, explaining that the nonprofit continues to offer therapy, coaching and counseling to the four families it currently serves. “Nothing of our programing has stopped.”

Katy Care’s volunteers worked proactively to supply the families with frozen meals, and the residences are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations, Pieterse said.

“We do not promote fear,” she said of the nonprofit’s curriculum. “Everything in our environment ... can be managed day by day with wisdom.”