In the past two weeks, Black Women in Business has delivered food to more than 200 people and raised $6,000 to provide more free meals to those in need.
By Courtney Runn, Photos courtesy of Rose Smith
Every Monday morning, Rose Smith hosts Motivational Mondays at the Black Women in Business headquarters. As the CEO and founder of the organization, she uses the time to encourage and motivate her members before starting the week. After the cancellation of South by Southwest, an extra dose of encouragement was needed.
“It really hit people like myself who work for ourselves,” Smith says. “It really hit us in the gut. We had all these events and everything. People kept emailing me saying, ‘Coach, what are we going to do? I’m stressed and I’m not going to make the money I was supposed to make.’”
But on the Monday of March 13, Smith had her mother on her mind.
After a routine doctor check-up, her mother was quarantined at home despite being healthy. While Smith could provide for her mother, she started to wonder about other senior citizens at risk for coronavirus who might not have daughters to bring groceries.
At her Monday meeting, Smith encouraged everyone to grab a few extra items at the store for friends and neighbors. What started as encouragement to be kind transformed into an organized operation overnight.
We Impact ATX, an effort spearheaded by Smith and based out of the Black Women in Business headquarters, has provided free food to more than 200 people and raised $6,000 in the past two weeks.
“We’re not turning anything away because people need and we want to make sure those needs are met,” Smith says.
Partnering with Abundant Life Community Baptist Church, South Austin Community Church, St. James Baptist Church and Victorious Living Christian Ministries, Smith is organizing volunteers to shop, pack and deliver non-perishable food items, water, formula and cleansers. They’re providing enough food to last for a little more than a week and keeping a database of everyone helped to monitor future needs. Volunteer seamstresses are sewing masks for We Impact ATX volunteers and to donate to hospitals. Smith coordinated with the local health department to make sure donations are properly handled and, for the safety of the elderly, she’s only using delivery volunteers who work for Uber, Lyft, Favor and other delivery-service apps that require background checks.
At first, Smith and members of Black Women in Business bought items with their own money but are now accepting financial donations to continue their mission. While they initially focused on the elderly, the organization has now expanded its reach to anyone in need. This week, they delivered to a private adoption agency to provide for kids who have aged out of foster care. They’re also keeping single mothers in mind who need formula and diapers.
Anyone in need can apply for food on the Black Women in Business website but Smith is also encouraging her team to personally call neighbors, friends, family and elderly churches members who might not otherwise see her social-media posts.
“The most humbling thing about it is a lot of times people think, ‘Well I don’t have a lot of money to give,’” Smith says. “What people need to realize is we all have something that somebody else is really praying for. It could be a service or it might be a kind word. It may just be some food. If all of us put our little bits together it can go a long way.”