All About Allies

Who We Are

A volunteer group for local families looking to connect with our community through service projects, donation drives, book clubs, Family Fun Nights and more.


What We Do

It can be quite difficult to find ways for children to volunteer with their parents. Austin Allies’ primary goal is to make that process simple. We discover and create opportunities for families to come together to support charitable organizations across the city.  By reaching out to organizations serving people from all walks of life, we find out how we can best be supportive – through physical volunteer work, donation drives, providing funds or goods, or simply joining together to bridge the divides that too often separate people in a busy city.

A secondary goal, but one we feel is just as important, is to gather to learn about and discuss topics that are relevant to the organizations we serve and the broader world.  Through book clubs, playdates, and other gatherings, we can share ideas and expand our worldview with the goal of building empathy and understanding.

We also want to help spread the word about the numerous charitable organizations in Austin.  There are so many people doing amazing things to help those in need and we want our members to know about and support them!


Why It Matters

The impact of our work is two-fold. First, it provides valuable support to charitable organizations. When these groups have support from the community, they can more easily serve those that need them the most.  At Austin Allies, we hope that the burden of monetary and donation needs, as well as the necessary physical labor, can be lifted for these groups so that they can better serve our neighbors in need.

Secondly, we believe that giving and understanding is an important lesson for our children to learn. It’s an important practice for them to partake in. Studies show that when kids volunteer from a young age, they are more likely to continue to do so as they grow up – all the way into adulthood.  These kids discover how important it is to help others, achieve more in school, learn to better understand people who are different from them, develop a strong work ethic, and become successful leaders.  (Molly Latham.  "Young Volunteers: The Benefits of Community Service.")  

At Austin Allies, we hope to help kids discover how important it is to help others.  By volunteering together as a family, you are also creating lasting bonds and memories that come from working together to make your community a better place.

Erika Nowlin


Erika is a native Austinite, former teacher, wife, and mom of two amazing daughters. Austin Allies is her brainchild - born from a need to counteract the increasing negativity she was seeing in the world, and to teach her kids empathy, understanding, and compassion for everyone in their community. She also wanted to find a way to make volunteering easier for families, by locating and creating events and opportunities with local organizations who needed support. Austin Allies' goal is to meet all of those needs, and it's off to a great start!

Vanessa Lowe


Vanessa Lowe has worked in urban education and literacy for almost 20 years. She started her career in education at the Department of Education in Washington, DC before moving into the classroom. She has taught high school English language arts in Austin and Houston, Texas and Brooklyn, New York. She currently works as a curriculum designer and teacher of teachers working specifically with educators who work in underserved communities. She has trained and taught teachers in New York City, New Orleans, and San Antonio. She is the mother to 10-year-old twin boys and lives with her family in southwest Austin.

Rachel Zabierek


Rachel taught high school math, science, and robotics in Dallas and San Diego high schools for 8 years before taking time off to raise her two young sons in Austin. She continues to work part-time as a tutor and substitute teacher while also presenting informal science lessons and demonstrations at assisted living facilities in Austin. She joins Austin Allies on the Board of Directors with a desire to cultivate opportunities for even our youngest Allies to volunteer their time and abilities to help others.