On a typical Wednesday night, Rory Thomas And her volunteer staff at Lubbock Impact would be rushing from kitchen to dining room, placing hot casseroles, bags of donuts and other donated goods onto their decorative tables. Normally they’d provide a space for family dining to nearly 300. But With the spread of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, they’re having to rethink the way they serve the community.
“Lubbock impact is finding new way of doing what we do…kind of like doing it with a twist,” Thomas says. “We created 320 servings, but we put them into casseroles so families could use them. Cars drove through and of course we’re going by everything with the city is encouraging us to do as far as safety with masks and gloves. We were able to take care of I believe 50 and 60 households.”
Lubbock Impact is a faith-based organization that provides an array of services, from hot meals to medical clinics. All free of charge to the working poor throughout Lubbock. Tonight is the second Wednesday in a row that Thomas and her team have served to-go dinners to their regular families. Their client base is expected to get hit the hardest by the effects of the coronavirus.
Thomas explains, “Our people are the working poor, and they’re the ones that are going to be hit so hard in this because a lot of them are lower level in their job, we don’t have too many managers or anything, if a company needs to cut back, it’s our people that are going to be cut back.”
Texas Tech economics professor Robert McComb estimates that 20 percent of employment in Lubbock is at risk. “We have 12 percent of our employment is in retail trade and they start closing down or reducing their hours, they’re going to start letting people go,” he says. “The hospitality industry is about 13 percent of employment and that’s going to largely grind to a halt without travel…That’s a lot.”
It’s not just Lubbock Impact’s clients that are experiencing loss. Most of their volunteer network is comprised of older volunteers and Texas Tech students. Thomas estimates that they’ve lost about three quarters of their volunteer staff. But she says there’s a silver lining in all of this.
“In the end I think us realizing what our true needs are and how to truly help people,” Thomas says. “There’s some good that can come out of all this. It’s so hard on everybody, but learning to love your neighbor in this way is just absolutely beautiful.”