Over the course of just 18 months, Briana Murphy and Jacqueline T. Freeman have worked as full-time unpaid volunteers for Black Women In Business, and their efforts have provided free groceries to over 65,000 Austinites in need.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out in March 2020, community leader Rose Smith immediately sprang into action. She created and organized a food program through her organization Black Women In Business (BWIB), designed to provide free groceries to seniors, residents with disabilities, families in need, and Austin’s homeless community. Rose not only wanted to help others through the pandemic but encourage her organization’s many members to focus on possibilities over limitations. Strong as Rose was, she knew she couldn’t do it alone.
Briana and Jacqueline have been a part of every aspect of BWIB’s Community Food Relief Program since its launch. Working essentially a full-time job each week completely unpaid, both women have truly wrapped their arms around the program that’s now managed to provide free groceries to over 65,000 people, all with no governmental funding. Connecting with not only members but other individuals, nonprofits, churches, and businesses of all sizes takes a massive amount of coordination. The program hosts curbside pickup twice a week at their headquarters, has an online portal for the homebound to have groceries delivered, and serves a dozen senior living facilities and East Austin apartment complexes directly. Briana and Jacqueline are behind it all and have kept operations going while enduring everything from the Texas summer heat to rain and even snow! They’ve also provided free face masks, maintained social distancing, and passed out Austin Public Health information on vaccinations for everyone’s safety along the way.
“Ms. Jackie and Briana bring a caring spirit with them wherever they go,” says Rose. “It is the way they speak to everyone and offer assistance that makes them stellar volunteers and women. It is the countless times they go above and beyond without being asked, and their desire to make a positive difference in the lives of those that they serve and work with. Ms. Jackie brings wisdom, compassion, and recipes to our clients. Briana brings energy, kind-heartedness, and fun. Their hard work ethic is unmatched. Together they are the perfect combination – it is impossible to watch them without being inspired. It is an honor and a blessing to work alongside them.”