If you have lived in our area for any length of time, you will have seen Emily. For twelve years, white-haired Emily, who was homeless, stood at the corner of Bee Cave Road and 360 waving down motorists for a bit of spare money. Maybe you sometimes gave her a few dollars.

One day one of your neighbors, Kent Redding, stopped and introduced himself and asked her name. Kent befriended Emily and helped her connect with Mobile Loaves and Fishes. You probably know Mobile Loaves and Fishes for their trucks delivering food, clothing, hygiene products, and other necessities to Austin’s homeless and working poor community members. But they do so much more.

Mobile Loaves and Fishes also runs the Community First! Village, a 27-acre planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing for the chronically homeless. It is a supportive community that lifts people out of homelessness and helps them to earn an income through the Genesis Garden, the Art House, the Forge & Woodshop, Concessions & Catering, and Car Care. The Community First! Village is Emily’s new home.

It is also home to Ute Dittemer, whose art you can see on exhibit at Laura’s Library beginning Friday, November 16. A reception will be held on Sunday, November 18 from 2-4 pm. Ute is a self-taught artist from Germany who uses bright colors and an edgy technique to create active landscapes.

At the library, we share many of the books you donate with another organization, Foundation Communities. Foundation Communities also offer affordable housing at 23 different sites around Austin with after-school and other educational programs plus health care access for families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.

We live in a generous community. People in the Westbank/Eanes area recognize the privileges of a comfortable lifestyle, and we share with others. At this time of year, when we gather with our families and friends to give thanks, let’s remember our less fortunate neighbors. Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Foundation Communities always need volunteers and capital.

Also, please stop by Laura’s Library for Ute Dittemer’s art reception this Sunday (11/18, 2-4pm) to encourage and support her art-making!