Hand Up Network, a Tyler based nonprofit that serves communities in over 37 East Texas counties needs volunteers to help deliver food to the doorsteps of COVID-19 infected individuals to keep them from breaking their quarantines.
If food is being brought to their doorsteps, infected persons will not have a need to leave their homes and go into highly populated areas like grocery stores.
Samuel Smith, CEO of the organization said that small surrounding counties are each in need of 10 local volunteers, while bigger cities like Tyler need a minimum of 20 volunteers.
The nonprofit works very closely with East Texas Emergency Response and the Texas Homeland Security and are informed daily on the number of cases in each county, and are given access to assist the infected.
Because quarantines typically last for 14 days, volunteers will return to the same home on more than one occasion. For that reason, Smith hopes to establish a base of volunteers that spread all over rural and urban East Texas so that volunteers can aide others without having to drive long distances.
“People are scared and in their homes right now,” said Smith. “Those that have the capacity to help need to. We need resources and manpower in order to do what we do.”
Volunteers never directly interact with the people they deliver food to. They are briefed over safety precautions via phone call and are given a hard copy of a checklist of sanitation measures to take before making any deliveries.
“We brief volunteers on everything from how they need to be prepared, where they need to go, what to pick up, hand washing and sanitizing and how to drop things off,” said Smith. It’s common sense and structured to leave no questions unanswered.”
The organization has had experience working with communities all over the world in times of crisis. Similar efforts were made during SARS and Ebola outbreaks, said Smith.
The focus of their mission in direct relation with confronting the coronavirus pandemic is to provide a support system to infected people in their time period of extreme isolation in order to keep them safe and the community safe.
“When someone is diagnosed with COVID 19, they don’t have support system,” said Smith. “We don’t want them breaking quarantine and we also don’t want to put volunteers at risk.”
For that reason, volunteers bring food and essential supplies to the front porch of the infected person, drop off the supplies, and leave without any direct contact.
Aside from addressing the needs of the community in light of the pandemic, the organization continues its mission of providing long term help and support to community members who are experiencing times of hardship.
Recently the organization received a phone call from a veteran who had run out of money and hadn’t eaten for four consecutive days.
After listening to her story of how she had gotten into this situation, the organization bought her enough groceries to last until her next paycheck was scheduled to come in, She was then entered into a program with the nonprofit that is committed to giving her the tools necessary to ensure such a situation does not occur again.
“Our relationship with those who we serve is a long one,” said Smith. “We figure out the problem, find the bigger wound and work to heal it. “
Smith said the organization has worked with a variety of cases. Some of their clients have PHD’s while others dropped out of high school. Drug addiction may be a problem for one client while a traumatic event may have altered the life of another.
“We intake and assess the situation, assign them a mentor and staff members and volunteers develop a game plan. We have over 50 personalized programs to help people as every person’s situation is different,” said Smith.
Although the organization typically provides long term one on one work with clients experiencing a variety of hardships, they do additionally have disaster response teams which provide assistance in times of pandemic or natural disaster.
Those who are interested in volunteering can access the volunteer application through the following link: handupnetwork.com/volunteer-application/
HAND UP NETWORK™ is a 501c3 non-profit based in Tyler, TX that has assembled an international team of leaders with decades of experience with a desire to come back home and bring focus to those in need in local communities. The Network offers long-term programs to people seeking a new season in life and response teams designed to address community issues and emergency response. The Network provides intentional volunteer opportunities for people wanting to provide support within their programs and opportunities to engage via Response Teams. The Hand Up Network was awarded the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency for 2020! This is the highest level of achievement possible.