The rites of spring in Austin tend to be fixed on Bluebonnets, Indian paint brush, warm winds off the Gulf of Mexico, and a gathering known internationally as South by Southwest (SXSW). Technology companies, entrepreneurs, investors, filmmakers, musicians, and dreamers come to the Texas capitol city to learn about the latest trends and ideas and plan on becoming one of the businesses or creatives that design their futures with the energy and enthusiasm the spins out of the conference.
At Encast, we are all big believers in SXSW. We know the challenges it presents to the city and our infrastructure but the upsides are virtually unlimited for the economy and Austin’s reputation as a leading community for digital industries. We also know things are not perfect in our hometown and there is always a need to raise awareness around important issues. That’s why for the 2018 edition of SXSW, we are encouraging visitors to our city to consider making a donation to one of the charitable causes that are helping to improve lives in Austin.
Last year, Encast launched what we hope will become a trend for SXSW, which were events to raise awareness around social issues and problems like hunger and homelessness. As SXSW began, we hosted a pop-up care village downtown that offered everything from showers to food and clothing and job hunting assistance. Our lead partner in the project was Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based showers on wheels service founded by South Texan Doniece Sandoval. Her project to provide showers to help the homeless has received widespread news coverage and numerous national honors.
On a cloudy and rainy day in March, we had 350 people visit our village for all types of assistance from organizations and individuals they probably never even knew existed. These great charitable causes need support from Austin residents but we’d also like to see SXSW visitors consider making a donation to commemorate your trips to our spring festival.
I’ve listed some of them below and you can give to them directly or go to our Encast site and make it possible for all of your company’s employees to help out Austin’s homeless. Sign your company up for WorkHERO and enable donations from everyone working at your business or simply establish a personal account with MyHERO and make private gifts to any charitable cause in Austin or beyond.
Consider gifts to these organizations while you are visiting SXSW and Austin:
Mitscoots Outfitters: Sells hats, beanies, scarves, socks, shirts, and gloves and for each item purchased a similar one is donated in the purchaser’s name to an individual transitioning out of homelessness. Buy some gear for yourself while in town for SXSW and help out someone who needs an assist.
Mission Accomplished: Dedicated to providing resources and assistance to individuals and families needing a helping hand to deal with homelessness, food, clothing, and even security from abusive relationships. The goal is to move people into independent, self-sufficient, and healthy lifestyles.
Mealshare: One of the greatest ideas for simplifying helping others to avoid hunger. While you are in Austin, visit Mealshare’s website or their Austin Twitter feed to find restaurants that participate in their program. If the item on your menu is marked as a Mealshare dish, the exact same meal will be delivered to someone in need after you purchase your meal.
Beyond the Grade: Provides music education for underprivileged kids as an after-school program in districts all around Austin. These students would not likely have access to instruments or music teachers. The immediate goal is to improve the quality of education and classroom experience.
Central Texas Food Bank: The largest hunger-relief charity in Central Texas works with food donors, financial supporters, and volunteers to bring 45 million meals to the Austin community of families and non-profits that turn to them for help. They make food affordable for families and charitable organizations and government programs needing assistance.
Adamo Nail Bar: Takes a unique approach to helping rehabilitate, educate, and empower women that have been exploited by the sex industry in the U.S.; especially human trafficking survivors. The Nail Bar offers manicurist education, training, and state certification to women who would likely have little or no means of providing for themselves. Jobs are also provided in the Airstream nail trailer as it travels around Austin delivering manicure services.
There is no shortage of great causes needing your help. Think about giving to one of them before, during, or after your trip to Austin. And consider visiting Encast to make giving a habit for you, and your company.