The idea of community is as ancient as our species, but how often, especially during these pandemic times, do we get to truly remember this?
Last week Austin Bat Cave unearthed community in a moment.
By Saturday Austin Bat Cave’s board cleared the staff to be paid for Austin blackout relief efforts for the following week. Everyone in Austin was affected by the blackout, but the city’s most vulnerable were not safe.
A social media call for supplies needed by mutual aid organizations was sent. Volunteers and ABC staff set up ABC’s East Austin headquarters as a hub. For hours on Sunday, dozens of donors from all over the city dropped off carloads of food, water, and supplies that were immediately mobilized to support the community. This is what so many people have a tendency to do—run directly into disaster for the sole reason that people are in there.
Volunteers drove these carloads (packed to the gills, y’all!) to the sites listed as most needed by Echo, an organization that immediately mobilized for unhoused and low-income Austinites. In nearly every one of these drop off spots, families were waiting for water and food. That day alone, 22 carloads of supplies were sent to hundreds of people who were in need at that very moment.
Over the course of the next week, ABC staff and volunteers collected donations and went shopping. Dozens of other organizations had already mobilized and ABC thought of ourselves as support for those remarkable organizations. ABC brought over $5,000 of diapers, formula, food, supplies, and water to Austin Mutual Aid, families who were driving through for supplies at The Millenium Center, and our educational program partner Del Valle Community Coalition, who rallied for their neighbors with a huge supplies drive. On Friday night we ordered 100 meals for Foundation Communities from Home Slice (who made their own donation and got the meals together at the very last minute). Who doesn’t want a sandwich and a cookie at the end of a bad week?
Over the course of the week, I was reminded, as many times as I picked up a box of shelf-stable food, put another children’s book into a care package, messaged a volunteer an address for drop-off, placed an order for more supplies, or thanked yet another donor, or even took an intake of another breath of Gwendolyn Brooks’s words from the poem “Paul Robeson”:
that we are each other’s harvest:
we are each other’s
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.
55 friends of Austin Bat Cave donated over $5300 in a matter of 64 hours. These donations came from states and countries away. These people ran toward us in the only way they could. It’s a fact: we are each other’s magnitude and bond.
Because of ABC’s community and their donations, for other people in the center of a disaster, need was addressed and joy was directly behind it. Time and time again.
Thank you all who donated, loaded boxes into your cars and took them directly to folks that needed them, gave us support, and worked, really worked, for other people...all from six feet away in a mask. What are we if not for each other? What a reminder of exactly this.
Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over. Together we’re powerful.
Katie Angermeier Haab,
Vice President of the Board of Directors of Austin Bat Cave