Highland Lakes Crisis Network sees increase in requests for help

Masks needed for COVID-19 response

The Highland Lakes Crisis Network has seen an increase in requests for assistance and items. Masks are in high demand because they can help protect the wearer from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The network has a list of other needs, including food and baby formula. Courtesy photo

The Highland Lakes Crisis Network has had a spike in requests for assistance because of COVID-19 and could use a little help itself.

Crisis Network President Kevin Naumann said the organization has had 150 requests for help since Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that “people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors.”

The faith-based network was anticipating requests from older adults and homebound individuals but is adding furloughed people from the hospitality industry to the list of those needing assistance.

Naumann also noted that since area schools are closed because of the virus, students who rely on reduced and free meals are at home. 

“There is some overlap – I guess that’s the urgency behind it,” Naumann said. “It’s not just people who normally rely on it. (Hospitality employees) are furloughed for thirty days, and some live paycheck to paycheck who are asking for help for the first time in their lives.”

The Highland Lakes Crisis Network provides support to families and individuals who need assistance but, due to a number of reasons, can’t get it from other agencies or organizations. The network formed in late 2018 to help people recover from the October 2018 flood. It has since expanded its mission to assist in other disasters, whether large scale or smaller in scope.

Along with the Crisis Network, assistance organizations such as food pantries are feeling the increased demand on services as well. 

“It’s supporting all those needs at the same time,” Naumann said. “There’s an exponential growth pattern. Every day, you double your numbers. At what point does it stop? I know it will. There are people in need who don’t know where to turn.”

The Crisis Network wants to be there when people turn to them. To do so, it needs the community’s support, including donations of goods.

Here is a list of needed items:

  • toilet paper and paper towels 
  • cleaning supplies
  • gloves, surgical masks, and N95 (respirator) masks
  • hand sanitizer
  • distilled water
  • baby formula
  • diapers
  • canned goods
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • bread, crackers, and other grains
  • meat and eggs
  • rice and beans
  • non-perishable food
  • soaps of all kinds
  • other home essentials

Donors can drop off the items from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. starting Tuesday, March 24, at: 

  • Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church, 800 Wright St. in Llano
  • First United Methodist Church, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive in Marble Falls
  • Hill Country Fellowship, 200 Houston Clinton Drive in Burnet
  • any local food pantry

Network officials realize the listed items are in high demand right now, which is the precise reason they need it, according to a network media release.

In addition, the Crisis Network has other ways residents can help, such as volunteering at the above collection points; preparing and delivering meals; assisting with administrative work; fundraising; and joining a prayer team. 

Naumann noted that with shelves at grocery stores bare, donors can always give money or purchase gift cards from area restaurants. That will relieve pressure on grocery stores and help local restaurants at the same time.

“It would be great if people will give gift cards,” he said. “It helps businesses and also solves the meals issue.”

Naumann said he can’t compare what is happening right now to the network’s response to those affected by the October 2018 flood. Then, the organization helped 700 residents. Naumann is bracing for when, as days become weeks, more residents reach out to the network for help.

“You have all things happening at once: school districts are out, the economy,” he said. “What is complicating things is telling people to stay home. We’re getting ten cases a day, and those are new ones. We’re trying to problem solve for all.” 

For more information on volunteering, assisting, or getting assistance, check out the network’s website or call 325-423-3662. 

“This is one more opportunity to show how great the community is,” Naumann said. “We can see the best in people. They rise up and take care of each other. For me, that’s what’s most impactful.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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