Looking Back at 2020: Responding to COVID-19

In 2020...

  • Over 20 million pounds of food distributed to those in under-resourced areas

  • Over 500,000 masks distributed throughout Greater Houston with Masks for All project

  • Interviewed 35 denominational, medical, and organizational leaders for the Faith Leader Insight Series

  • Produced Reopening Guidelines for Congregations with partnering organizations

The COVID-19 pandemic came with numerous questions and uncertainty. Congregations and partner organizations all over Greater Houston came together to do what they could for their communities. Half a million masks were produced and distributed at food distribution sites with the Masks For All program. Millions of pounds of food were dispersed within under-resourced communities that lived in food deserts or had a lack of transportation. We worked together with local congregations to create Reopening Guidelines to help transition churches to in-person meetings. Throughout the year we interviewed 35 congregational and community leaders for our Faith Lead Insight Series to help guide congregations throughout the pandemic. We are so grateful for the dedication these congregations had to their communities this last year. Join us in celebrating them and seeing their accomplishments below!

Over 20 Million Pounds of Food Distributed

For many communities in Greater Houston, access to food and necessary goods was limited during the 2020 pandemic. Coalitions, congregations, and local partners teamed up to hold food drives for those living in food deserts and in under-resourced areas. Many of these food distribution centers are still in place today, but last year they were able to serve over 20 MILLION pounds of food. We have many stories of the hard work these groups have put into their communities, but below are a few of our favorites.

THE RESTORATION TEAM When the COVID19 pandemic hit in March 2020, The Restoration Team made the decision to suspend their volunteer program for a few months. While they were still active in-home repair through paid contractors and smaller work teams of staff, they shifted some of our priorities and resources to food distribution.

The Restoration Team served with the Fair Haven Food Pantry every day from March to December. In partnership with Chapelwood Serving Ministries, they organized volunteers, registered food recipients, sorted, boxed, and distributed food.

With roughly 300 families coming through each day, they were able to serve 63,441 families and 316,395 individuals in need of food. In this time, volunteers spent 16,000 hours distributing 2,300,000 lbs of fresh produce and dry goods. All-in-all the Fair Haven Food Pantry has accounted for 13% of the Houston Food Bank’s distribution.

HR NORTHEAST coalition teamed up with Community Works CDC, High 5 After School Program, and our Masks For All project to distribute food and masks to those in their community. They served every Wednesday from at Villas on the Green.

HR SOUTHEASTcoalitionvolunteered their time at the Oak Meadows Civic Club with congregational leaders from both Iglesia Restauración Vida Cristiana and El Shaddai Ministries. Together they served over 300 people, including 30 homebound elders.

HR EAST HARRIS coalition teamed up with St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church every Tuesday to give two bags of food to families in need. In the photo above, they were able to serve over 170 families! We are so grateful for all of their help in the community.

Over 500,000 Masks Distributed in Masks For All Project

Masks for All Project Began in April when the medical community began requesting the public wear face masks to limit transmission of COVID-19, Government leaders asked Houston Responds to help. We were able to help provide personal use of face masks to help ensure there were MASKS FOR ALL, especially in those in under-resourced areas. In this video, you can see an example of a face mask production kit line that congregations used to aid in mask production and distribution. Masks were made and distributed in Greater Houston along with food and water.

Our Partnership with Grab Bag Masks started in May of 2020 to provide the underserved communities around Greater Houston with high-quality triple-layer cloth face masks. For every mask purchased through the Grab Bag Masks website, one was donated to a local underserved community. This effort aided in our goal to get as many masks out in the community as we could.

Meet Sophie. A kind-hearted twelve-year-old girl in Pearland, Texas who took it upon herself to make masks for her community hospitals, nursing homes, and daycare centers. When we interviewed her in June of 2020, she had produced over 1500 masks! To read her full story and see how she and her mom made the 1500 masks, visit our blog here.

Faith Leader Insight Series

The Faith Leader Insight Series started as interviews with pastors about how their congregations are responding to COVID-19 and what insight they can offer to other faith leaders. Later, we were able to also meet with partnering organizations like the Houston Food Bank, as well as medical and government leaders in Houston. In total, we were honored to hear from 35 individuals. Below you can find some of our favorite interviews we conducted.

Dr. Ed Young Sr., Senior Pastor at Second Baptist Church, shares that now is the time for congregations to seize the opportunity to be a church outside of their buildings and make an impact during COVID-19. VIDEO

Reverend Virginia Wall of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church shares the struggles seniors are experiencing during this time of social distancing. VIDEO

David Hsu, Pastor of West Houston Chinese Church, shares the unique challenges that the Asian community is experiencing during COVID-19 and how churches can take the lead on setting an example of how Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor. VIDEO

Brian Greene, CEO and President of Houston Food Bank, shares how they have doubled their normal output during COVID-19. Their biggest need is for additional volunteers at partnership locations to help with drive-through and no-contact drop-off models. VIDEO

Want more Faith Leader Insight videos? Check out the blog series HERE.

Reopening Guidelines for Congregations

In collaboration with congregations all over the Greater Houston area, Reopening Guidelines were created to describe best practices and provide resources for when churches were ready to resume in-person services.

They were broken out into categories, which you see a general overview below. You can find all of the Reopening Guidelines on our knowledge base website HERE.

Campus Flow- Churches may find entryways, hallways, and bathrooms to present the greatest challenge for practicing social distancing when attempting to conduct on-campus services.

  • Staff & Volunteers

  • Parking Lots

  • Entrances

  • Hallways

  • Bathrooms

In-Service - This guide will go over some best practices to use during the service. This can include:

  • Worship Service Planning

  • Entrance, Seating, and Exits

  • In-Service Leadership & Elements

  • Staff & Volunteers

Sanitation - General guidelines to help sanitize before and after services, entrances and common areas, bathrooms, and children areas.

Church Office Reopening - A list of provided questions to consider before reopening the church operations and staff.

This E-News was sent on April 8, 2021

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More on the "Looking Back at 2020" series HERE.

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