Contributor: Daniel Diffen
Our New Mission
Earlier this year, Austin Allies’ Board of Directors met over a period of several weeks to strengthen the group’s mission in order to focus in on what makes Allies distinct from other volunteer organizations around Central Texas. With those meetings complete, we’re excited to detail our new Mission Statement that will act as both a framework and guiding mechanism for the group going forward. The Board wants to make it clear to all of you what triggered the changes, what they mean for the group moving forward, and what members can expect from Austin Allies in the future.
The New Mission - Empathy is both our motivation and our goal
Austin Allies is a volunteer organization for families that serves the Greater Austin Area. We believe in the transformative power of the volunteer experience and that engagement builds empathy. We welcome all who want to make a positive difference in our community. Austin Allies believes that all people are worthy, deserve respect, and should be treated with dignity. Our members are active learners and informed citizens who see the value in supporting underserved communities.
Austin, Texas is a diverse and vibrant community that offers countless opportunities to volunteer and give back… opportunities that can be tricky to navigate or understand without someone to walk you through them. Our updated mission allows Austin Allies to remain committed to connecting families to the right organizations.
We especially recognize the value that volunteering in-person offers, and firmly believe that it is the best way to make a difference not only in our community but also within ourselves. Volunteering in-person means that we will have the chance to work side-by-side with the people who need us the most. We believe firmly in the inherent humanity of those whom we serve and honor them by offering them what we can when we can.
Our view for a better future can be summed up in a single word: Empathy. By teaching Empathy we can stamp out hatred and violence within our community. Experiencing Empathy can reconnect us with one another and strengthen our bonds. Building Empathy will help us make a better future for each and every person in our community.
The New Vision - We are learners and partners, actively engaged in our community
Along with the new Mission, Austin Allies has developed four key tenets that further define what our expectations are not only for our leadership, but also what we want our volunteers to come away with every single time they spend time with us.
“We Believe in Following the Example of our Partners.” As Allies, we do not determine the time or the place where we are needed. The organizations that we partner with tell us what they need, and we work to fulfill their wishes (and not the other way around).
“We Believe in Engaging with the Community.” We believe that in-person, shared volunteer experiences are the foundation to building empathy and stronger communities. Whenever possible, we will strive to serve in-person.
“We Believe that Service Builds Equity.” At some point in our lives, everyone needs help. Those of use who are lucky enough to have the support of others are responsible for making sure that everyone receives that same help when it is needed.
“We Believe in Building Future Citizens.” Children will always be the cornerstone of our organization. By providing future generations with path to service, we seek to eliminate the barriers and stigmas that keep many from giving back.
You can find even more details about these statements here.
So what now? As members, what should we expect?
From the volunteer point-of-view it might not be obvious how these changes will impact Austin Allies. We promise that we will continue to provide volunteer opportunities for families and children of all ages every single month. Established partnerships with organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, Central Texas Food Bank, BookSpring, and Autumn Leaves will remain mainstays on our monthly calendars. Book Club and literacy education are and always will be the cornerstones of Austin Allies programming. Seasonal drives like our pajama and backpack collections to support St. Louise House, Communities in Schools, etc. will be available, too.
But you’ll also begin to see new partnerships forming with organizations committed to serving Central Texas communities that are in need, underserved, or underrepresented. Our aim to provide in-person volunteer opportunities means that there will be increased chances to work side-by-side with the people and groups that we are trying so hard to support. We urge all of our members to join us in stepping outside of our comfort zones to recognize our duty to our fellow citizens.
Because “we do not see ourselves as separate from the people we serve. In honoring and engaging directly with our partners and their clients, we see Allies as part of a larger community of people working together to build a city that is more welcoming and equitable.”
We will also be stepping up the educational aspect of volunteering. There will be short, age-appropriate presentations given prior to or at the conclusion of each and every service project, either by a member of the Allies Leadership Team or the group with whom we are working, so that everyone understands why we are there and whom we are serving.
You will also notice that we will be stepping up our collection drives in an effort to improve local literacy and support groups that we cannot work with directly. Later this fall, our Executive Director Erika Nowlin will post guidelines for donating in order to help us streamline our processes and make Austin Allies an even more potent organization.
Lastly, we would like to reiterate that Austin Allies is committed to providing free, equal opportunities to all of our members on a first-come, first-served basis. In the end, these changes to Austin Allies symbolize a rededication to the Central Texas community and our members as we continue to strive for a more equitable and humane world for all. Thank you so very much for being a part of our team!
-Austin Allies Leadership Board