The Hand Up Network works with city and county services to help East Texans in quarantine to prevent further exposure. The ministry tailors its response to specific needs, like grocery delivery, teaching prevention practices, and even video chatting with those who have been isolated alone for days on end.
“We’re there to help people when they’re going through a tough time, but at the same time, get them right back up and get them going,” said Sam Smith, CEO of Hand Up Network. “So that’s, for the most part, what we do.”
Hand Up Network has several response teams who have experience responding to communities with Ebola, hurricane recovery efforts, and helping individuals in vast poverty.
However, CEO Sam Smith said the COVID-19 outbreak presented unique circumstances.
“We try to respond and take care of people, but we’re not a food bank,” said Smith. “We really don’t do this. What we do is mentor people and help people. But, in this particular case, we’re ramping it up to do whatever we have to do because nobody is going to starve, and nobody is going to be in a situation where they feel like they have nobody to help them as long as we’re here.”
Smith said the experience the response teams have working with people during natural disasters can be invaluable to area health officials, who may have no experience working in emergency response before.
“Right now what we’re doing is coming alongside these groups and basically are there to help them.” Smith explained.
“We’re trying to be their right arm, trying to help them deal with things. Obviously, we’ve been there; done that. We’ve got some much experience with these types of things.
“There are many people in our society who are trying to deal with this situation, and they’ve never dealt with it. Fortunately — or unfortunately — we have dealt with it,” he added.
Volunteers and donations are the life-blood of nonprofit organizations. Smith said the Hand Up Network has needs just like many other organizations during this time.