COVID-19: Attack Poverty Serves 25,000 People The Last Three Weeks and Hopes For More Volunteers


Brandon Baca, CEO of Attack Poverty, gives us a look into what the last month has looked like for them during COVID-19, how they have served over 25,000 people in just three weeks, and how they are hoping to move forward with more volunteers.

"Typically in a year we serve anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 people and that's kind of what we do. . .not only domestically but internationally. So globally we serve that many people over the last three weeks. What we found is through having these distribution points, we served over 25,000 people just in the last three weeks through providing those needed resources like food and supplies and kids packs, things for families to do at home."

Mentioned Resources:

Attack Poverty

Houston Responds COVID-19 Resources


Transcript:

Tommy Rosson:

Hello, this is Tommy Rosson with Houston Responds. Thank you for joining us today. I'm joined by a friend of mine, Brandon Baca of Attack Poverty. Brandon, thank you for joining us today.


Brandon Baca:

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.


Tommy Rosson:

That's great. You bet. Tell me a little bit about Attack Poverty and what your life has looked like these last three and a half weeks.


Brandon Baca:

So you may or may not know the vision of Attack Poverty is to empower people to attack poverty in their life and community. So day to day we were on the train of strengthening under resource communities through spiritual growth, education, revitalization, basic needs, afterschool programs, adult education, revitalization efforts. We were deep in Harvey recovery still even three years out. So that was our world. I mean, we had a pretty tragic event with our CEO, which kind of really caused us to pause and really evaluate who we are looking at that. And then COVID-19 hit and we really, you know, all of our, as many of us, all of our programs paused. We had to quickly get into action, understand the needs of our community, and we converted all of our resource centers into distribution points.


And what we found was instead of having one place for a bunch of people to come to because of stay at home orders, because of the possibility of this virus spreading in lots of different areas, we wanted to be safe but also continue to care for our community. So we just said, look, let's make many distribution points and keep it as safe as possible, but get as much of the resources that our community needs, out to the community. And so since we have these resource centers that are embedded inside the communities, it just made sense for us to do that.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah, that's great. I know that you have a six, I think you had six, maybe seven. I'll let you talk about that research. So tell us a little bit about that, but also you mentioned that last year you served about 25,000 people and you've done that three and a half weeks. Tell us a little bit about your resource centers and that.


Brandon Baca:

Yeah, so, typically we, you know, in a year we serve anywhere from 20 to 25,000 people and that's kind of what we do. And that's actually what we do, not only domestically but internationally. So globally we serve that many people over the last three weeks. What we found is through having these distribution points, we served over 25,000 people just in the last three weeks through, you know, providing those needed resources like food and supplies and kids packs, things for families to do at home. I mean, we have people walking up, driving up. We're trying to keep it as safe as possible, but it's apparent that the need is real. It's real and it's growing week by week. And so, we have seven points throughout the area and we get requests. Tommy, we get, I don't know, maybe every week for sure.


We get several requests of, Hey, can you come do this here or there? We can talk about that more in a minute. But what I'm thankful is we, we, because we have the staff, because we have the location because we have the relationships within the communities where we serve. We were able to convert and just kind of really get into it pretty quickly. Now I will say that we've had 800, almost 850 volunteers volunteer with us. And most of those volunteers, Tommy, have come from the church, through our church partners. I mean, in times of crisis or disaster, you know, what we've found is the faith community, our faith community just really rises to the occasion. And the church asks, what can we do? How can we help? And it's really been beautiful on relationships to see that happen. Because we're right on the front lines. We get that, they get that. But we also understand that one of the things that we want to do is not just sit back and watch these seasons go by without participating in the way that Jesus would. So the church wants people to be actively involved in their faith and work. We're trying to work on ways to make that happen. And so we're seeing those relationships really deepen and people really respond. It's been amazing.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah. I mean that's, that's great. And that's what we, at least from Houston Responds perspective we talked about all the time is this idea of what we've seen in this season. You know, many nonprofits across greater Houston are going to have to double, triple, quadruple. You have grown. I talked to another organization as well that has from by tenfold during the season. And the only way that's possible is there's a massive gap, whether it be funding, volunteers, leadership, but when the church community steps in and they want to step in during the season and they partner with somebody who knows what they're doing, like attack poverty, they will come out in full force to do that. And so without the local church, you wouldn't have been able to do that. How are you able to deepen those relationships with the local church so that you have those partnerships? How do you serve them in such a way that builds the depth of that so that when you seize it, you can count on?


Brandon Baca:

Well, you know, that's a hard question to ask, but you know, everything revolves around relationship, you know, and telling the truth. That's one thing is we don't know what we're doing, but we're going to do the best we can with what we have and we need you, here's our gaps. Here's what we don't know how to do. Here's the things that we don't have. Here's the capacity that we don't yet have access to. Can you help us? And what we've found is the church is ready to respond in that way. And the reciprocation is the same too. Hey, can you help us get our people involved in these multiple different ways? Absolutely. Let's figure that out together. And what we found is moving from a transactional type of relationship to more of a partnership, it's the way to go.


But that doesn't happen because we have all of our stuff together. That doesn't happen because we've, you know, it just happens because we're telling the truth. We're doing the best we can and we're communicating openly to one another. So one thing we try to do is give people next steps and I think the church is really good at probably the best place at that I've ever seen is kind of going, what's your next step in your faith? What's your next step in community? What's your next step in service? And so we've kind of taken that on too and said, Hey, what's your next step? So every time someone volunteers, they get an email from us that that night or the next day and said, Hey, thanks so much for volunteering with us. What's your next step? Then we're also trying to communicate back to the church that the impact of that volunteer or that those donations are those things. Here's what's happened as a result of you guys stepping up with us. This has been amazing. Here's what's going on. Thank you so much for what you're doing. And not really making it all about our organization or their church, but really about the impact in the community and seeing what's happening around us and the world around us because that's really why we're doing it.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah, no, that's great. And it's, as we talked to nonprofits so many times, we talked about the local church, their focus is to help develop people spiritually and to help them be transformed. And so that's their focus. When we talk about the idea that when you connect with the church, they have this purpose that they exist for. But also they want to serve their community because that's part of their purpose as well. But it's not all of their purpose. And so finding partners that help engage their people in this act of service, helping them love the community that also is aware of their DNA and kinda helped communicate that back. That's why, you know, some nonprofits really connect well with churches to do that. But it's because they live into that part of your DNA, helping the church reach their mission. But also the church is helping you meet your mission and it's a mutually beneficial relationship.