ATX Together: Community Resilience

Posted on September 8, 2020

Our latest episode of, ATX Together: Community Resilience, is now available to stream. What lessons can we learn to help Central Texans who are most vulnerable during and after this pandemic?

Our Special Correspondent for this episode is Gloria Vera-Bedolla — a wife, mother and an active member of the Community Resilience Trust.
Gloria Vera-Bedolla scaled
This is her personal essay.

I have the privilege of sharing with you something that started many years ago. Resilience. It’s a big word and an even bigger thing to be resilient. I grew up in a small town of about 8,000 souls called Lamesa, Texas. Sadly, it’s a place where it is very acceptable to embrace deep-seated racism as part of life. Unfortunately, when we accept racist behavior, we are not just accepting the role of being less than, but we are also becoming complicit in perpetuating nasty old racism. Racism drives things like slavery, murder, gatekeeping and many other heinous things that are overlooked and accepted as just the way that things have always been.

A little while ago, I began to confront the racism and biases within myself. I was helped by wise counsel from my parents along with advice from two ladies I met during a tumultuous time at my job. I was working in an elementary school in the Eastern Crescent of the city and on Back to School Night we heard that our little school was on the chopping block again. This was the third time Brooke Elementary had been in the crosshairs. A few of us jumped into the fight to keep the neighborhood Title I school from closing.

We got through all the important stuff: CATCH Night, Thanksgiving, Parent Teacher Conferences, Christmas, Brooke’s Final Tamalada and Valentine’s Day, where we had so much fun and we built a community. We got donations in the form of a washer and dryer set, three truck loads of shelf stable food, carload after carload of Christmas gifts and boxes of board games. We even created the Brooke Sharing Shelf and so much more. Finally, we got to spring break! We’d counted down the days until we could go on a vacation somewhere and then come back refreshed and finish the year strong! We’d finally accepted that Brooke would be gone after June, and that we were going to make the best of it. But a week before spring break started, we were told that all schools were closing because of the coronavirus.

That’s when I found out about the Community Resilience Trust. One of its members, Laura Yeager, invited me to come and talk about the things that undocumented families were suffering while school was closed. People of color are resilient because we are used to having things taken away from us and it’s usually in a traumatic way. Community Resilience Trust brings together people from all walks of life and every shade on God’s beautiful palette. This group of amazing community leaders meets at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday and does amazing work. Everyone brings their expertise to the call and listens for their opportunity to be of service to the community. This is done in a respectful setting and members of the global majority are given the chance to share and/or ask for support first. This model blew my mind the first few times I experienced it. Now I can say that I love these people because they seek to do good things for others, not just themselves.

Here are links to groups and resources mentioned on ATX Together: Community Resilience.

Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette is President and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University, Austin’s oldest institution of higher learning and only Historical Black College and University.

Co-founded by Rubén Cantú, Community Resilience Trust was formed to fill in the gaps for the community’s most vulnerable.
Community Resilience Trust ATX Facebook Page

Dr. Burnette co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities. The task force collaborated with more than 200 community members and developed more than 200 recommendations in 2017 to create transparency in law enforcement, provide funding for housing inequities and provide a path to review Austin’s governmental policies that may perpetuate the systemic inequities.
City of Austin Downloadable Report