Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance

by S.H.A.P.E. Community Center
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance
Coronavirus and Disaster Relief Assistance

One thing we’ve learned throughout these last two years is that we really don’t know what to expect. We do know that no matter what comes up, SHAPE staff, volunteers, and supporters, will rally to provide the best disaster response possible.  As we continue to monitor severe weather, which may threaten the Houston area, we have been able to make some weatherization repairs on our family center building. The installation of new commercial gutters cost $8,000, and has already protected our building from taking in water during extensive rain events.

Going through the process of finding a reliable contractor was a challenge. Houston has faced so many closely spaced disasters that contractors are already busy with numerous projects.  As the saying goes, “with necessity comes invention," so our recent challenges have given us the opportunity to begin brainstorming on a new program for construction training to assist with disaster relief.

We believe such a program will provide the community with more immediate assistance during times of distress, while also addressing economic development, and alleviating some of the stress that community members feel when searching for a trustworthy contractor. We look forward to keeping you updated as we begin to build out this program.

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Just as we were beginning to make some progress through uncertainty that we all faced during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Texas was hit with an historic level of destruction from the 2021 winter storms. SHAPE was very fortunate to maintain electricity and water, which provided us with another opportunity to serve the community.  Prior to the storm, we were able to hire two new contractors and transfer two of our existing contractors into a full-time and part-time staff positions, which brings our employees up to a total of ten.

The new additions were greatly needed as we worked to distribute emergency aid in response to the winter storms. As our city faced massive power outages and loss of water, SHAPE was able to serve as a temporary warming center, allowing a few elders to stay in the center overnight while their homes were without power. During the day, we were also able to provide a space for people to charge their phones, contact loved ones, eat hot meals, and fill their empty receptacles with water for various uses.

Along with that, within days of this disaster, we were able to distribute over 800 cases of drinking water.  With help from our supporters, we were also able to provide more than $25,000 in direct financial assistance to people who suffered damages or hardship due to the storm.  We are so grateful for all of your support, and we are now bracing ourselves for the upcoming hurricane season.

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Imani Kwanzaa Celebration
Imani Kwanzaa Celebration

Last year, more than any other, has shown us the importance of adaptability. Through the dedicated support of our donors, staff, board and volunteers, SHAPE was able to remain open and continue serving the community. In October, we cautiously resumed some in-person services with our elders. Approximately fifteen visited the center for food, supplies, PPE, computer services, and the opportunity to safely socialize. Unfortunately, the coronavirus cases in our city resurged and we were not able to reestablish our regular programming for the Elder’s Institute of Wisdom. We made the necessary adjustments to ensure deliveries to the homes of those in need. Along with deliveries, we made regular phone calls to check on the well-being of 20-40 elders each week.

A modified version of our youth program continued to operate with a focus on children who struggled with online learning because of various barriers they faced at home. The enrollment fluctuated weekly from four to fifteen children between the ages of 5-15 years old. Assisting children through day school instead of our regular after-school program resulted in SHAPE increasing our internet services, upgrading virus software to the 20 computers in our computer lab, and adding additional services, such as Zoom. Since many of the families did not have adequate equipment at home, we also donated or loaned approximately 20 laptops.

Despite all of the event and program cancellations and other changes, we were still able to end the year with our annual celebration of Kwanzaa. It was our first virtual presentation, so we had to work out some kinks, but we will definitely continue the online presence even when we are able to resume in-person events. It was a challenging year, but we learned a lot… however, we still miss seeing all of you, and wish you the happiest new year.

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Although Houston has re-opened many more businesses and public spaces since our last report, SHAPE continues to follow the most cautious guidelines, and we have only partially returned to our regular programs.  During this time, SHAPE has also turned 51 years old!

As we plan for our “new normal,” we are engaging with community stakeholders either virtually or through small socially-distanced gatherings.  Our first meeting included 5 stakeholders who focused on outlining our new organization structure and determining which programs and activities we can sustain.  We will continue to meet every two weeks, or as needed, bringing in additional stakeholders to contribute to the process.

In the meantime, we have maintained meal deliveries to elders, averaging 20-30 meals that we deliver three days a week.  We have also established community outreach that allows us to check in on those who are still primarily home-bound.  In addition, we host “Grab & Go” events at least twice a month and provide groceries, cleaning supplies, youth items and other necessities.  These mass distributions service 300-500 community members.  Additionally, we distribute approximately 100 disposable or reusable masks each week, as supplies last.  

Your generous donations are helping us to ensure that our communities feel safe and supported as we all work through creating some sense of normalcy out of the unknown.  We are excited to continue working with you and our stakeholders to carry on a legacy of service.

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SHAPE Community Center is so grateful for all of the support we have received during this time.  As with the rest of the world, our operations came to an abrupt halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, but with help from your donations, we were able to quickly switch tracks and respond to those in need. 

All of a sudden, we lost income from our events and event facility rentals, our onsite café and commercial kitchen rentals, our after-school program, and other donations; still we were so fortunate that contributions came in and allowed us to provide child care for essential workers, in addition to meals, transportation, masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, disinfectant, and reliable information to those in need.

It just so happens that we had recently purchased several hundred dollars’ worth of bottled water for our youth fundraiser, and we were able to repurpose that supply to deliver 1-2 cases of water and other necessities to approximately 30-50 elders and other vulnerable individuals each week since March.  Along with those daily deliveries, we also hosted five “grab-n-go” food and supply giveaways, which serviced over 1,500 families and individuals.

As our country reopens, we continue to move forward with caution as we restore SHAPE’s regular programming in the safest manner possible.  We wish you the best of health and happiness, and thank you again for all of your support.

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Organization Information

S.H.A.P.E. Community Center

Location: Houston, TX - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Shondra Muhammad
Houston, TX United States
$11,056 raised of $50,000 goal
 
74 donations
$38,944 to go
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