At RecognizeGood, it has and always will be our mission to share the GOOD in our community. In a time where our news feeds are refreshed more frequently than ever, we wanted to dig deeper and share the stories of our friends that are still out there on the front lines – the nonprofit staff and volunteers who don’t get weekends or holidays off, who cannot work from home and who still fearlessly take care of others.
Autism Society of Texas (AST) works to advocate for those with autism in our state, connects families to support groups and gives them the resources they need. They do so much to help public awareness and educate others that we wanted to know how they were maintaining such a difficult task during a time where we can find ourselves feeling less connected.
We reached out to Chris Masey, Executive Director at Autism Society of Texas, to find out how they’re managing to keep everyone together. Their team has been working from home, but they have had to postpone or cancel many fundraisers they rely on. April is Autism Acceptance Month, a big month for their community, and outreach has been hard due to the current news cycle.
“We’ve been forced into going online – that’s a mixed blessing, in that we needed to better serve folks outside of Austin, but it is difficult to make the contacts we need right now to get the word out on what we’re doing,” Chris says.
The autism community has benefited recently, as the organization has been able to expand groups virtually statewide. This has been an essential socializing outlet for many families who have been able to exchange stories, offer hope, and keep each other entertained – together.
An innovative project launching soon is called the “Stronger Together: Share & Care” campaign. It’s a platform where people can share videos of their skills, hobbies, or stories about how they are dealing with social isolation and stress to help others in the autism community and create a sense of togetherness while apart.
Creating videos and helping raise awareness for AST is the biggest way you can currently help them. However, one of their biggest challenges of this pandemic is yet to come.
“I am very concerned about how our folks will find jobs after all of this,” Chris says. “People with disabilities are usually the first ones laid off (if they have a job) and the last ones rehired.” After this ends, AST will shift their focus to employment and are even considering the idea of becoming employers themselves as they expect it to be harder for their constituents to find meaningful jobs or on-the-job training.
For more GOOD reads, check out our other For Goodness’ Sake interviews on our blog!