Caritas of Austin
As a born and raised Austinite, I jump at any opportunity to give back to my beloved hometown. This has trickled into my work at Austin Community College (ACC) where I have the proud honor of working within Student Life to provide campus & community resources to our 70,000+ students. ACC Student Life’s predominate focus over the past year has been tackling food insecurity. However, when I joined the NASPA Conference Community Service Project subcommittee, the issue of homelessness was suggested - certainly a hot topic these days both in Austin and across the country. My current professional contacts did not suffice, so I started researching and reaching out to members of the community that I admire to identify which one of the many longstanding organizations in Austin we should approach. The task was daunting, but the more I dug (both into my research and into my core), the more it was evident there was only one choice.
My favorite part about being a student affairs professional is the opportunity to engage the whole student: it’s not just about academics—it’s who they are, what their values are, and how they will craft their own unique pathway towards their goals. This mindset was at the forefront as recommendations were made to my subcommittee regarding what local non-profit we should partner with for the NASPA 2020 Annual Conference.
I am proud to shout from the rooftops that we are partnering with Caritas of Austin! Let me paint a picture for you of the abundance of services they offer the Austin community so that you can share that passion.
- Housing – The primary focus of Caritas of Austin is providing housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. What sets them apart is the evident commitment to reconnecting an individual to the community they most feel a part of – not just the community that is easiest. Once that is done, the focus can shift to integrating and figuring out how to thrive.
- Food – Caritas of Austin’s Food programs build physical wellbeing as people are transitioning out of homelessness. The services include both hot meals on site as well as a pantry with take-home groceries. The food aids in building a strong foundation for the journey.
- Education – Classes ranging from life skills, to financial planning, to health and wellbeing topics assist individuals in reaching their full potential. All classes are offered to clients at no cost.
- Employment – Caritas of Austin partners with hundreds of local businesses to assist their clients with job placement. These services assist the job seeker with preparation, such as resume development and workforce training, and provide ongoing support to the employer.
- Veterans Assistance – Statistics show that veterans experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate. Caritas of Austin is a local leader in the effort to end veteran homelessness.
One way that Caritas of Austin expresses this holistic approach to serving individuals experiencing homelessness is the thoughtful composition of their logo. In the center is a C to represent the core relationship between the professional staff and the people they serve. Next is a house, with sturdy unbroken lines beneath to symbolize a strong foundation. The house continues with two more layers, showing the wrap-around services provided by Caritas of Austin, as well is their commitment to the community. The entire logo resembles a fingerprint – further reinforcing their commitment to creating an individualized plan for every client.
I implore you to join us in supporting Caritas of Austin this conference season. There will be options to donate (either monetarily or through the giving of items), visit with staff members at the conference, or join us for a Lunch & Learn session. Stay tuned for additional information about these great opportunities.