Relationships for Rapid Response
The H. E. Butt Foundation was one of the first partners to join the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAF) in launching the COVID-19 Response Fund. That is worth noting not because this is a race, but because moments like this highlight why relationships matter—including relationships between organizations.
In the last few years, through our Community Engagement initiatives, we’ve worked closely with all sorts of area nonprofits, spending copious amounts of time getting to know their work and building solid relationships with their leaders and the funders who support them.
When a crisis hits, relationships pave the way for aligned organizations to join forces and execute quick decisions.
“When we expanded our work into San Antonio a few years ago, our strategy was to figure out how we could leverage the most amount of good. We started with taking a very relational approach,” said Perri Rosheger, the H. E. Butt Foundation’s vice president of community engagement and communications.
”It’s really made a difference in how we can show up during a crisis, and we’re heartened and encouraged by the work these nonprofits have done. We want to continue to support and amplify their efforts,” she added.
Patricia Mejia, San Antonio Area Foundation’s vice president of community engagement and impact, said her relationship with the H. E. Butt Foundation played an instrumental role in quickly getting critical resources out to organizations.
“You can’t move fast around strategy during a crisis if you don’t have an existing relationship,” said Mejia. “The reason why this has worked so well is because Perri Rosheger and I, along with so many others, have such an incredible amount of respect and trust for each other,” she said.
SAAF worked hard to simplify the application process for nonprofits, promising all applicants they would receive answers within 5-7 business days. Mejia says the amount of money awarded to nonprofits is a huge deal, but it’s only a small part of the story.
“I think the real story here is just how much folks care and immediately stepped up to help in any way possible; they quickly transitioned to provide critical support services such as immediate food relief, housing, employment assistance, mental health, sobriety help, and education programs,” said Mejia.
Sitting from her San Antonio home office, Mejia became emotional when sharing a story of a mom who, determined to make sure her daughter didn’t fall behind in school, sat in a local nonprofit parking lot while her daughter accessed its WiFi so she could finish her homework.
This story hit home for Mejia, who says her own mother reminded her of the mom in the parking lot. “I’m only here because my mom was a straight-up hustler,” she said, adding that, “it’s not what poor people don’t do, it’s what they do in spite of.”