Partners in Hope is a committed organization that believes we all have a need to belong and that social isolation is largely a preventable problem. In this special episode, Chadwin Barley is honored to be able to interview Andrea Connell, a board member with Partners in Hope, to learn more about this amazing organization. Their mission is to combat isolation, facilitate relational living, and cultivate servant hearts in the Lake Travis and surrounding area. Here, she discusses her role in the organization and walks us through their biggest needs. Join Andrea as she guides us on how we can be plugged and be involved with their cause.
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Creating Relationships And Support For People In Isolation With Andrea Connell
Chadwin Barley And Andrea Connell From Partners In Hope
My guest is Andrea Connell. We met through an association in business networking, but also because of our kindred spirits about our passions to give back to the community and serve others well in the Bee Cave-Lakeway area. Andrea, thank you so much for joining me.
Thank you for having me, Chadwin. I’m looking forward to it.
Andrea is going to share her association on the board of Partners in Hope. Andrea, before we get started understanding how and why you got involved in Partners in Hope, why don’t you define the organization and tell us a little bit about it so that our readers know about the organization itself?
Partners in Hope is a local ministry. It connects people who desire physical, emotional and spiritual help with the people who are able and want to help them. That’s the simplified version of it.
Who do they serve?
Our typical client is someone who is maybe withdrawn into isolation. They may be an elderly person, they may be a young family with kids. For some reason, it may be financial. It may be other reasons they have been removed from their group and other sources of community and they need help. A lot of it is spiritual and emotional health that they need. They usually need physical help as well. Maybe something with their house, their yard. Some way we can go in and connect with them on that level first and then begin to develop a little deeper relationship with them.
Is it a local organization? Is it statewide, nationwide or global? Tell me a little bit about how it spans our world.
It is local. We do serve the Lake Travis area. It started with Matt Peacock. He was the founder of it and it has grown since that time. He has two other staff members as well as a board of nine. He is working on a book that would serve as a template for using the same model in other places and being able to duplicate the efforts that we were having here.
My understanding of Partners in Hope is very limited. I first came to association with it through my affiliation with the board of Baylor Scott & White Hospital, because when we had our hurricanes, I did a collection of some things with my clients and friends and wanted to know who to drop it off to that would get it to the right people. Baylor Scott & White said, “We’re collecting on behalf of Partners in Hope.” Through Keller Williams Red Day, which is one day of the year that we set aside at Keller Williams for serving our community and helping people in need, they also partner with Partners in Hope. Partners in Hope gives us different families that we can go, serve and work in their yards, work on their homes to do home improvement. Those two elements are my limited knowledge of what Partners in Hope is. Help me understand how the organization, A, learns about the needs of these people, B, reaches out to them on a personal level and C, what the volunteers do specifically in service to help these individuals.
There are various ways that a client will come to us. It could be through a local church, it could be through a social worker. There are various ways that we identify the clients. When we talk about partnering with them, they enter into a one-year agreement that they’re going to walk with us for that entire year. We’re not as some organizations are where you go in and you do a job on-site and you’re done. They are agreeing to work with us for the entire year. It’s not just the physical part of working in the yard and helping with home repairs. It’s creating a relationship with them and helping to introduce them to others in the community. Ultimately helping to get them involved in a church or something where they’re going to be able to continue that walk with others and stay in the community.
It sounds like it’s a true ministry, pulling people who have been into isolation out of isolation so that they can be in a relationship and in faith.
You mentioned that Keller Williams participates in one of our workdays. We’ve got a whole list of groups that actually do participate at various times. We’ve got Young Men’s Service League. They are huge. They’re always out there. Ridge Restoration, National Charity League and you had mentioned Keller Williams Red Day, Chick-fil-A and then there’s to just individual volunteers that find about the group and they want to get involved, which is what my husband and I did. We had a friend who invited us to one of the workdays and just enjoyed it and enjoyed working with people and had been doing it probably for years.
I wanted to know and that helps the readers understand what the intention is behind the organization and also segue to teaching us how to get plugged in and involved. It sounds to me like your volunteers can plugin on a continuous basis or they can plugin if they want to just set some time aside once or twice a year to be hands and feet to help support those individual’s needs.
We have groups that come in maybe once and volunteer and then there are some that I see that come every month. Some of the other things we do, we had mentioned the workday, that’s one day a month where we go out to a family’s home and we may be doing yard work for them. We may be helping to build a deck, replace a window. There are various things that we may be doing out there and there maybe 40 or 50 people out there at one time. It’s pretty impressive. The other ways that we work with them are meal trains that are set up when needed. There’s a coffee connection where the clients come and meet for coffee, get to know each other. Once a month, one of the churches will host a Sunday dinner and that’s open to everyone as well. A lot of our clients can meet and connect again and get to know each other. A lot of our clients actually work on other workdays with us. It’s a real sense of community.
Andrea, I know you are a very busy person and a professional who is a great leader in our community. My question to you is just so people can understand what led you to get involved on the board level to this organization?
Honestly, Chadwin, I was asked too and went through the process of understanding what would be involved in doing it and I felt like I was called to do it and I jumped in.
One of the things I want to address is that people perceive the Lake Travis area as being highly affluent and it is. We are so blessed in this community, but the truth is that there are a lot of people in need. People who may be reading this, that could be a new realization to them. Help us understand the types of individuals that Partners in Hope is serving in our community.
There are a lot of people in the community that are not affluent and some that actually are financially secure that are having other issues. It’s not only those that are in financial need, usually, it is, but not always. There may be a recent death, divorce or medical issue. There are various reasons to get involved and a lot of those things can help too. People in isolation, they just separate themselves from others when things like that happen. What we hope to do is come in and help with that.Partners in Hope helps people who are withdrawn into isolation, connecting them with those who are able and want to help them. Click To Tweet
You walk alongside them.
Walk alongside them for the year. That’s the agreement that many of them stay on with us for several years. I think there are 30 families that are part of Partners in Hope and growing.
If someone is reading who knows someone in need, is it based upon a nomination or would the family reach out directly to request assistance from Partners in Hope?
No, they could reach out directly to Dee Ehlers or to Matt Peacock. They would go through a vetting process and an interview process to decide if that was appropriate. If your readers go to our website at PartnersInHopeLakeTravis.org, they can find that information and the contact information there.
My question is sometimes when you’re in need, you’re the last one to come to the realization that you can actually reach out and ask for help. Can friends or loved ones reach out on behalf of a family and seek that support for them?
I think they can. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to the individual to agree to that. Some people don’t want to go through that whole process. They may just want their roof fixed or their porch built. That’s not the mission of Partners in Hope. There are groups that do things like that, which is awesome, but the main mission of Partners in Hope is to walk with that person or that family throughout the year and help to connect them to the community, connect them to a church and to get involved in their life.
Our readers are far-reaching. What would be a great connection for you to make on behalf of Partners in Hope? Are you seeking for more support, for more church partnerships or individual volunteers? What is a big prayer on your wish list that we can help fulfill?
Both. We’re always looking for volunteers and financial support is a big one. We were hosting our big fundraiser on November 3rd. That is called Night at the Oasis. We’ll have bar appetizers, live band, silent auction. You have the Oasis sunset in the evening and it’s just a time to learn a little bit more about Partners in Hope. They’d like to tell some of the client’s stories and help people understand exactly what we do on a more personal level at that time.
That’s November 3rd at what time at the Oasis?
5:00 to 7:30.
Is there any fee associated with getting in?
There is actually no fee and that includes dinner and evening of entertainment. We do require RSVP. I would direct people to our website PartnersInHopeLakeTravis.org and there’s a tab for Night at the Oasis and you can RSVP at that place.
If someone is interested in learning how to get involved, this sounds like the perfect opportunity where they can come and enjoy some complimentary eats and treats while also becoming educated about how to get involved and how to help support our community.
This is probably the best way to do it.
There will be a slide show or a video to help us see the event before we get there.
We generally have one of our clients get up and speak. There is a slide show that talks about the events that have happened over the year, as well as what our goals are for the upcoming year. It’s a good time to learn a little bit more about what we do.
That sounds like a great way to get intimately familiar with what’s going on at Partners in Hope and it’s a no-risk, big reward opportunity. Thank you for sharing that with us. To the audience, that’s going to be at the Oasis. Come enjoy some beautiful sunsets of the Lake Travis landscape and also learn about Partners in Hope. Andrea, being on the board, what commitment is that for you and your family? Do you guys meet monthly or on a quarterly basis? Help me understand what that looks like.
We do meet monthly and since we’re ramping up for the fundraising event. We’re accepting silent auction donations and we are getting our tables ready. It’s a pretty busy time.
I do have a lot of business owners who are associated with this. You said you’re still looking for silent auction items. What things might we be able to support you with?
Honestly, we are open to whatever creative ideas that they may have. We’ve got several things. We’ve got a condo in Park City, Utah for a week. We’ve got a couple of nights at the Sonesta. We’ve got some personal training sessions with Practical Fitness. I believe Iron Wolf is doing a tasting of some sort. We’ve got a varied group of auction items and we’re open to whatever you may have an idea for.
I’m glad that came up because I’m sure there will be a lot of people who want to pitch in with that. Andrea, as part of the board, are you guys helping to make determinations when you have applicants out in the community that is seeking assistance? Is that what you guys do throughout the year?
No, that is not our job. That is between Matt Peacock and Dee Ehlers and Denise that do that part. We’re not part of the process of selecting the clients.
Andrea, one last thing about how to get involved. Are you as a board seeking any other leaders to fill seats and when does that come into play or are you helping to spread the word about Partners in Hope so that people can get involved on a day-to-day volunteer basis?
Our biggest need is between volunteers and financial support. If this is something that you believe in and think is worthwhile, we would love to have your financial support. If you want to come out and join us for a workday or a Sunday dinner and see what it’s all about, we would love to have you join us for that as well.
I imagine that you have support our organization button on your website there, so it’d be easy to figure out how to give.
We do. It’s PartnersInHopeLakeTravis.org.
Andrea, thank you so much for spending some time with us. Is there anything that you feel like I should have asked that I haven’t covered?
I know that there’s one quote by Mother Teresa that I love and wanted to share it. She says, “Being unwanted, unloved and uncared for, forgotten by everybody as a much greater hunger and much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” There are more people than walking around in that situation. A study was done and they said, “Since the 1980s, Americans who say they suffer from loneliness and isolation has doubled from 20% to 40%.” It is a pretty big problem. A lot of people aren’t aware of it and we hope to help solve some of that.
I totally agree and thank you so much for leaving us with that note because I do know that even amongst the highly involved friends that I have in our community and in the world, each of us goes through times in our lives where we do feel isolated and need someone to reach out and give us that spirit of hope and companionship. I do strongly believe in what Partners in Hope are doing to pull people out of isolation and to remind us all that we are all connected. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for how you’re sharing with the people who you’re reaching out to through this great organization. Thank you for giving us all an opportunity to get involved.
Thank you, Chadwin.
- Partners in Hope
- Night at the Oasis
- Keller Williams Red Day
- Young Men’s Service League
- Ridge Restoration
- National Charity League
- Practical Fitness
About Andrea Connell
Andrea is an experienced Marketing Manager for VIK Complete Care in Austin Texas. She also serves as a board member for Partners in Hope which provides outreach to individuals in social isolation. “Social isolation is a growing epidemic — one that’s increasingly recognized as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences. Since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.”
Partners in Hope believes that we all have a need to belong & that social isolation is largely a preventable problem. Therefore, their mission is to combat isolation, facilitate relational living, and cultivate servant hearts in the Lake Travis & surrounding area.