We recently witnessed a very special act of kindness by a young girl named Destinee. Destinee gets together with her friends every couple of months to do arts and crafts, and she decided she wanted to use her talents to help others. She and her friends decided to begin selling their crafts to raise money to donate to local charities. For their first donation, they chose The Salvation Army.
Destinee decided she wanted to help homeless children for her first donation. With the help of her grandmother, she searched the internet to see how she could do this. Together they found The Salvation Army Austin’s #InvisibleAustin website and campaign. They read about the growing number of women and children in our city experiencing homelessness. Destinee knew she wanted to support this important cause.
Destinee and her friends gathered their crafts and sold them outside of Brookshire Brothers in Rockdale, Texas, 60 miles east of Austin. They raised and donated a total of $410!
Destinee came with her grandmother and great-grandmother to the Austin Shelter for Women and Children to give her donation – a box full of cash! She toured the facility and had a chance to see how her generous gift was helping others.
We are so thankful to Destinee and to her family and her friends. It warms our hearts to see children helping other children. Destinee’s act of kindness is inspiring, and we are blessed to be the first charity Destinee and her friends are supporting. We look forward to many more inspiring acts of kindness in the New Year.
The Salvation Army Austin manages many programs along with two shelters to serve families in need in our community. None of this would be possible without the generosity and support of our donors, sponsors and volunteers. We are so grateful and thank you for all you do to help us continue servicing our community.
This year we hosted our second annual Rock the Red Kettle ATX concert. Much went into the planning and preparation for this concert which was headlined by Cory Morrow and his friends. This successful night was possible because of their support and support from our sponsors Legacy Mutual Mortgage, Carson Vaughn, GarzaBury, Riverside Resources, Andrew Priest, Erik Maund, Charles Maund Toyota and many, many more. We had a great response from volunteers who braved the cold with us. The Texas Spirits helped with setup for the concert. The Texas Cowboys came dressed and brought Smokey the Cannon. The staff from AMLI luxury apartments and The Junior League helped with our silent auction.
Cory Morrow’s help continued as he invited local musicians to come out and rock our red kettles. To our delight, there was a huge response. McCallum High School orchestra and Ring 4 Him came out to play and the 6th grade girls at Hyde Park school came out to sing. Walt and Tina Wilkins sang tunes at the Lakeline Mall while Jarrod Johnson, Drew Fish and Horseshoes and Hand Grenades rocked our kettle at The Domain. We had a big line up of artists at our Barton Creek Mall kettle featuring Dave Fenley, James Soto Band, Fletch Wiley, Los Vaqueros and so many more.
Ben Kazda local bartender at The Dig Pub took it upon himself to designate a night where he and his fellow staff would donate their tips on a particular night to provide gifts for the teen in shelter. The Dig Pub also donated 15% of its sales to the cause as well. Last Monday, they raised a total of $6,786.17 in one night! We are thankful to Ben and the staff at Dig Pub. They recognize that our Angel Tree program provides children up to the age of 12, who are in need, with Christmas gifts. They wanted to make sure the teens had a special Christmas as well. We thank you for thinking of others and for support our teens in shelter.
Our Angel Tree program provides toys to thousands of children in need in our community, who would otherwise not have a special Christmas. Our hearts were filled with joy to see so many volunteers help at the Christmas Cheer Warehouse and to see many donations pour in for the children. We are thankful to Majic 95.5 who hosted a radio-thon Friday, December 11th to support the Angel Tree program and any forgotten angels. The program is possible because of the gift and monetary donations made by thousands of people throughout our community.
This year Bastrop County experienced wildfires. Our Williamson County Emergency Disaster Service (EDS) canteen and volunteers were deployed. Our volunteers provided meals and hydration to firefighters and first responders. Our Williamson County volunteers not only donated their time, but donated their gas money as well. Most drove from Georgetown to Bastrop each day to help. Without much of a break, they came out to our Shoe-In at Celebration Church and helped fit children in need with a new pair of socks and shoes. Earlier in the year Texas experienced catastrophic floods and our volunteers were there to help. One of our volunteers gave a pair of shoes to a young woman who lost everything in the floods. Our EDS canteen and team is run 100% by volunteers. Our hearts are filled with gratitude to know people like our EDS volunteers who truly care about others.
We witnessed many more acts of generosity from the people in our community and we would like to thank you all for everything you have done to help us serve the families and individuals in our community who are suffering. Because of your support, we are able to help them see a brighter tomorrow. Thank you again and God bless.
Ben Kazda is a bartender at Dig Pub and founder and owner of Hold Up vintage clothing. He, along with Dig Pub owners, fellow waiters and staff donated all of their tips on Monday to buy gift cards for teens living at the Austin Shelter for Women and Children.
Ben has been doing this for several years. He decided one year to donate all of his tips one evening.
Last year this effort raised $5,200 so that the shelters could get gift cards to the teens’ favorite stores like Aeropostale, Game Stop and Old Navy. It was very cool for the teens, who have an especially hard time living in shelter. Last night, Ben and The Dig Pub raised $6,786.17!
Dig Pub also donated 15% of all sales on Monday to the cause. The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program provides gifts for children 12 and under. Ben is making sure those over 12 have gifts as well.
Ben Kazda shared, “I have been doing this for quite a few years now. It started when I realized that I personally could help one person, or I could multiply my efforts by giving all my patrons a chance to help out. Last year was the biggest year I have ever had – raising $5,200. This year with the help of other bartenders and waitresses joining me in my efforts, my goal is to raise more than we raised last year for these teenagers who would otherwise not receive Christmas gifts.”
“It is so great when people in the community can really zero in on a way they can make an impact. This was a definite need for our shelter, and Ben’s work over the last few years has transformed the holidays for these teens.” – Stacy Schwarz, Assistant Social Services Director for The Salvation Army Austin.
Ben knows that for the teens living in Salvation Army shelters, it is especially hard. They want to be normal and have gifts like other kids their age. A gift card to their favorite store gives them the opportunity to buy something they like during a very difficult time for them and their family. Ben is a true Austinite who wants to give back to his community and make a difference. Ben was also our volunteer-of-the-month in 2014.
We are so thankful to Ben and Dig Pub for their generosity to the teens in our community.
Dig Pub is located in Cedar Park. You can visit their website or find them on Facebook.
AUSTIN—Today the Travis County Commissioners unanimously approved the sale of 7.5 acres of surplus, county-owned land on Tannehill Lane to the sole bidder, Mr. Dick Rathgeber. Rathgeber, who is Chairman of The Salvation Army of Austin’s Capital Campaign, has committed to donating the land to The Salvation Army for construction of a new women and children’s shelter. The land is adjacent to the Austin Shelter for Women and Children, which is operated by The Salvation Army and funded by the City of Austin. Following the vote, The Salvation Army released the following statement from Lt. Col. Henry Gonzalez, Salvation Army Area Commander:
“There is an invisible crisis of family homelessness in Austin, and today’s vote will help us address this challenge for our great city. We are deeply grateful for and humbled by Mr. Rathgeber’s generosity and vision to care for the most vulnerable of our citizens. We are pleased to have worked collaboratively with the Travis County Commissioners to see this vote come to fruition. Not only will the location of the new shelter contribute to the welcoming, campus-like environment we have cultivated for the existing shelter, this vote will also allow us to gain up to 35 percent efficiency by co-locating the facilities. Tens of thousands of women and children will eventually have access to services customized to meet their needs in a nurturing environment to help them move from crisis to self-sufficiency. Today’s vote is a win for Travis County, the City of Austin, The Salvation Army, and most of all, for the women and children who will find safe haven and a fresh start in this new facility.”
On October 14, 2015, The Salvation Army of Austin launched the public phase of its first capital campaign in 27 years by announcing it had raised $10 million of a $14 million goal. That announcement kicked off a six-week awareness campaign, Invisible Austin, to draw attention to the crisis of family homelessness in Austin. Frost Bank has agreed to support a social media campaign designed to raise public awareness of and engagement with the capital campaign. Every time the hashtag, #InvisibleAustin, is used on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and The Salvation Army Austin is tagged in the post, Frost Bank will give $10 to the capital campaign up to $50,000. For more information about the campaign or how you can get involved, visit www.InvisibleAustin.org and help solve the crisis of women and children experiencing homelessness.
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 126 years in the Austin area. Locally thousands of people receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, to relief for disaster victims, rehabilitation for the addicted, clothing and shelter to those experiencing homelessness and case management to help people move from crisis to stability. Eighty-two cents of every dollar The Salvation Army Austin spends is used to support those services in Travis and Williamson Counties. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyAUSTIN.org. Facebook.com/SalvationArmyAustin, Twitter.com/SalArmyAustin or Instagram.com/SalArmyAustin.
There is something special about the Williamson County disaster volunteers. The Salvation Army is blessed and honored to have so many dedicated volunteers serving our community with us!
In the midst of the Bastrop County/Smithville fires that took place at Hidden Pines earlier this month, were a team of volunteers working tirelessly. These selfless volunteers are led by volunteer and disaster coordinator Randy O’Dell. They maintain the Williamson County disaster canteen and provide hydration and nourishment to first responders during disasters.
During the fire relief efforts, these volunteers put in 12 to 14 hours a day to support our firefighters. Their days also included traveling an hour and a half to get to the fires at 5:00 am each day, some coming from Liberty Hill and others from Georgetown, and then traveling an hour and a half back home each night. They graciously donated their time (637 hours) and their gas money ($717.63) to make it out every day to serve the courageous first responders battling the fires.
Total Served at the Hidden Pine fires:
- Meals: 930
- Snacks: 1,285
- Drinks: 2,140
Just the day before, the disaster volunteer team had responded and served firefighters at the blaze in Taylor, which was fortunately quickly contained. After their services at the fires concluded, the disaster volunteers did not stay home and rest. They came out two days later to the Shoe-In this past Saturday at Celebration Church. Saturday’s torrential rains would have kept most people home, but this exceptional team of volunteers came out to helped give more than 250 elementary school children in need, new socks and shoes.
One particular volunteer, Bruce Peterson, found time in between the fires and the Shoe-In to give haircuts to homeless veterans through the Austin Veterans Stand Down. Bruce stays and cuts hair until there are no veterans left needing a haircut. During the Texas Floods back in May, disaster volunteer Cindy Wells, gave her extra pair of shoes to a young woman who lost everything in the floods, including her shoes.
These are just a few examples of why the Williamson County disaster volunteers are so special. We are so thankful for this extraordinary team!
Click here for more information on joining this amazing volunteer team.
Last week The Salvation Army Austin launched its Capital Campaign. The campaign commemorates The Salvation Army’s 125th Anniversary and funds raised will support a renovated emergency shelter, a new shelter for women and children, new facilities to administer The Salvation Army programs, and a new drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for women. Our goal is to raise $14 million, of which – we are thrilled to announce – $10 million has been raised so far. Click here to read our campaign launch press release. You can also view our media coverage from KEYE and FOX7 which includes capital campaign speeches from Colonel Gonzalez and our board members on our youtube channel.
As the city of Austin grows, the number of families experiencing homelessness rises. You can help shine a light on the hidden crisis of family homelessness. A special website has been launched where visitors can download digital resources to share and find more facts about family homelessness at www.InvisibleAustin.org. Below are some examples of posts and tweets you can share to help the cause, plus information about a big social media challenge from Frost Bank. You can also show your support and take a picture with our #InvisibleAustin cutout and post or tweet your pic. Look for the cutout the next time you’re at an Austin event.
“There is a quiet crisis of family homelessness in Austin,” said Area Commander Lt. Colonel Henry Gonzalez. “Last year, three out of four of the clients sheltered in The Salvation Army emergency shelters were women and children. These families are behind the scenes, out of the public eye and in desperate need. We believe this is a crisis for our prosperous community. Through this capital campaign we are shining a spotlight on family homelessness and raising the resources to greatly expand our capacity to serve them.”
We are excited to announce that Frost Bank (@FrostBank) has generously agreed to support a social media campaign designed to raise public awareness and engagement of the capital campaign. During the six week campaign, every time the hashtag #InvisibleAustin is used on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and The Salvation Army Austin is tagged in the post, Frost Bank will donate $10 to the capital campaign up to $50,000!
We are thankful to all that have donated and that are helping spread the word to raise awareness of #InvisibleAustin. “…together we can address the crisis of women and children experiencing homelessness, and invest in the long-term success of Austin.” ~ Dwight Thompson, Advisory Board Chair
We’ve created some sample social media posts to make it easy for you to share:
Facebook post: For 125 yrs @SalArmyAustin has been the silent, steady partner meeting the needs of the #InvisibleAustin population. Donate & learn more at invisibleaustin.org
Tweet: Each night, @SalArmyAustin provides a bed to 420 neighbors in need. Help spread hope to the #InvisibleAustin ppl. at #InvisibleAustin.org