Christina Fulsom speaks in gentle, measured tones, but don’t let that fool you. The founder and CEO of East Texas Human Needs Network, she can tell you just how bad things are for our neighbors living in poverty and without shelter. When physical and mental health, housing, job, paycheck, transportation and grocery money are hanging by a thread, an infectious disease with no vaccine in sight equals desperation.
In my first conversation with Christina several weeks ago, I recalled a clever public service announcement from Round Rock, Texas, appealing to our statewide love of chips and salsa. “Wash your hands like you just got done slicing jalapeños for a batch of nachos and you need to take your contacts out. That’s like 20 seconds of scrubbing, y’all.”
Suddenly, I heard this ad anew. I heard the assumptions about its audience. After all, not everyone has vision insurance and regular eye exams. Not everyone can afford contacts. Not everyone has a dependable water tap to scrub under.
How do you protect yourself from infection when there is no running water or soap or when sick leave and paid vacation time doesn’t exist? Christina tells us who our most vulnerable neighbors are and how local nonprofits are bending over backwards to collaborate and provide resources. I hope that, as she suggests, you will count East Texas local, nonprofit staff and volunteers among our first responders, providing aid in a dire moment.
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