A cold, wet morning is minor inconvenience in a critical mission. Food needs to be sorted, bagged and delivered to families.
"They are working people. It's just so hard to make it," said Kelly Wierzbinksi, the director of Family Connection, a program of the Dallas-based Rainbow Days.
Family Connection began in 1989 to provide comprehensive supportive services for homeless children living in emergency, transitional or domestic violence shelters.
In 2017, the nonprofit added Project Hope to address the unmet needs of homeless children and families living in motels across the Dallas community.
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"We wanted to help them as much as we could and that includes meeting the critical needs with food insecurity, with hygiene products and really trying to help them as much as we could, so htey could be successful in school," Wierzbinski said.
It's these children and families the nonprofit and its food partner Crossroads Community Services worry about the most as the coronavirus pandemic wrecks lives and more clients need help.
"In February 2020, we had 65 children and parents that we served. And this month, October, we have 159," Wierzbinski said. "We work with the homeless education department. And they've identified 250 children livng in motels. We only serve a tip of that."
"Without their help, the kids may not have food. there's a lot of kids in the community who may not have food," said Jennifer Black, a single mother of three who relies on the monthly food delivery to feed her family.
She lost her job as a cook, then left a front desk job when her elementary-aged kids shifted to virtual learning.
"We don't know with the COVID. I don't want to start a job then find out three weeks later, they've shut down the schools again and it's virtual, then I''ve lost a job. So right now, it's one day at a time, one week at a time," she said.
"These kids need this food. They don't have the same resources they used to have being in school. And I think it's imporant to at least put food on the table. And the parents are suffering, too," said Elizabeth Morales Ramirez, a family connection specialist at Rainbow Days.
She knows all this because she once got help from the very same nonprofit where she now works. She's a family connection specialist at Rainbow Days. "This organization has really helped me emotionally, mentally, physically and all the possible ways."
It's that hope for a better future that keeps Jennifer Black going too.
"We're all gonna be down at some point, like a lot of us are now, and you gotta keep your head lifted up for the kids more than anything and keep moving forward," Black said.
Rainbow Days request donations to help buy food and hygiene products for families. Volunteers are needed, too.