The Atascosa Inter- Agency Council met at the Pleasanton Civic Center for their Dec. 16 meeting and Christmas party.
Those in attendance included AIC Director Gloria Day, DeAnn McKinney One-Eighty program at Methodist Hospital | Atascosa in Jourdanton and Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in Seguin, Dorothy Steelman- Pleasanton Public Library Director, Elia Pardo- Benefit Counselor with the Area Agency on Aging for Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), Lucy Martinez Aetna Better Health of Texas, Michelle Elms and Janett Munoz- COVID Outreach Team through University Health, Belia Valenzuela and Edward Gentry- Belong and Tabitha Garza- San Antonio Food Bank.
Under Old Business, Director Day reminded everyone to keep their information updated on the website. Day reported the Atascosa Feast of Thanksgiving event was a success, serving over 500 people.
Under New Business, DeAnn McKinney of the One-Eighty program announced she was hosting a tour at Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in Seguin on Dec. 22. The tour highlighted the hospital-based, inpatient medical service for withdrawal from alcohol, opioids and prescription medications.
Tabitha Garza of the San Antonio Food Bank shared that they are still hosting the mega-distributions in Atascosa County on a monthly basis. The food drives are held the third Saturday of each month. People in need of food are encouraged to go online to preregister, so they know how much product to bring. Preregistration generally closes the Friday before the event. However, the food bank offers onsite registration as well.
The mega-distributions generally start at 10 a.m. at the Poteet Strawberry Festival grounds and people are usually in line by 8 a.m.
Garza explained that in addition, they are piloting a new outreach effort in partnership with AACOG in January.
“We are calling it Secure Atascosa. It is kind of a branch off of what we are currently doing in San Antonio, called Secure SA,” said Garza. “What we are going to be doing here in Atascosa is working with representatives from the hospital, someone from the school, an individual with the county in regards to emergency preparedness and emergency response and basically we’re trying to do our part to try and shorten our line at these mega-distributions.”
Garza added that since the pandemic, the lines have gotten longer. They want to focus their efforts on the root causes of hunger for these families, such as jobs, healthcare and education.
“We just want to partner with individuals in these sectors to have conversations and establish a collaborative effort to see what we can do and use our resources in the communities here,” Garza said.
Janett Munoz and Michelle Elms of the COVID Outreach Team through University Health shared that they work to try and reduce vaccine hesitancy. They give free presentations to organizations, help set up pop-up clinics and also do visits for the home bound.
Lucy Martinez, member advocate for Aetna Better Health, is in charge of their baby showers and member advisory group meetings. She will host the next meeting on Jan. 12 for members only.
Referral service needed
As discussed in the November meeting, Day shared the need for some type of referral service to help residents for such situations as the steps to take when you can’t pay your taxes, etc. Sometimes, language is a barrier. Day is looking at possible grants that could be used.
Libraries serve as community anchors
Pleasanton Public Library Director Dorothy Steelman shared how the trend in libraries is to serve as community anchors. Especially in rural areas, libraries are the 3-1-1. For example, they can tell you where the tax office is and help with information and events going on. When a person gets a library card, it is actually law that the library is supposed to offer you a voter registration card, noted Steelman.
“The reason that I’m here is, I want to help in any way the library can to advocate whatever is going in your work,” said Steelman.
The library has a wall displaying flyers on AACOG events, food bank flyers, etc. Steelman added that the city pays for a database to help people look for grant money, which is called Candid. The library has access to it. Before COVID, you had to come into the library or be within the library’s network to access the database.
However, due to COVID, offsite access is allowed. Currently, offsite access is allowed once a month for 24 hours. Fortunately, you can export whatever you find and access it later, explained Steelman. This is slated to continue through May.
For those interested in using the Candid database, call the library at 830-569- 3622 and Steelman can share the link over the phone. You can also stop by the library at 115 N. Main St. in Pleasanton.
Special guests were Belia Valenzuela and Edward Gentry of Belong, which is part of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Belong serves as the lead provider for community-based care in Region 8B, now that the state of Texas is privatizing foster care. Belong is responsible for finding foster homes for children. To learn more contact 210- 876-6958 or visit sjrcbelong.org.