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From where I sit as the lead resource investigator for the San Antonio Community Resource Directory (SACRD), I can see thousands of my fellow San Antonians doing daily acts of compassion and care. I’ve got the best seat in the house.

I see social workers, school counselors, mental health professionals, first responders, retirees, clergy and laypeople of all faiths — people from every generation, every race and ethnicity, and every zip code. From mom-and-pop initiatives that help a few neighbors each month to huge operations like the San Antonio Food Bank and the Center for Health Care Services, it all comes down to the same thing: everyday people doing what Mother Teresa called “small acts with great love.”

Where I sit, I see signs that our hardwiring for kindness, compassion and community will one day win out over our fear, self-interest and divisions — inherent divinity over human frailty. Where I sit, it’s not hard to see and believe the best in people.

And I’m not as naïve or removed from the pain and struggles of my neighbors as you may be thinking. Of the thousand or more people who use our free online directory every day to find solutions to the problems they’re facing, a few invariably reach out for help navigating the thousands of listings spread across more than 100 categories of need. They share their predicaments, and I set aside my primary duties — expanding and updating the directory — and do my best to connect them with good people and programs that may be able to meet their needs.

Not every referral works out, but those that do make a real difference for real people. About half of those thousand visits to SACRD each day are from case managers and social workers who keep coming back because it works. In it, they find others who can help in ways beyond their own organization’s mission or capacity. Sometimes it really does take a village.

During the early days of the pandemic, when the city was in lockdown, I watched organizations that had worked for years in silos begin sharing resources and finding creative solutions together. When Haven for Hope and other shelters were unable to take in new people, I watched restaurants prepare hot meals that other organizations delivered to those who were left on the street. When students shifted to virtual learning but lacked internet access, VIA parked Wi-Fi-equipped buses in strategic locations. When vaccines became available, volunteer nurses made house calls to vaccinate seniors who were unable to go to vaccination sites. I could go on forever.

As the pandemic dragged on and its long-term psychological toll became evident, SACRD developed a portal for mental health care resources that includes over 1,500 resources and guides users to the few that best align with their personal situation. Next up, if funding materializes, are portals for housing, older adult services, and youth services.

Several days each month I represent SACRD at resource fairs and other events, and this gives me a chance to put faces to the other organizations I’ve added to the directory over the past several years, and to thank them for their vision, dedication, and servant hearts — for daily doing their bit to make us all better.

Keith Wideman is the lead resource Investigator for the San Antonio Community Resource Directory. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

When people find out I’m 74 and still working, they often ask when I plan to retire. I hope I never have to retire, I tell them. Why would I? I’ve got the best seat in the house. While I won’t give up my seat just yet, I will share it.

SACRD began as an all-volunteer endeavor and we still depend heavily on volunteers to help expand the directory and keep listings accurate and up to date. If you would like to contribute but resource investigation and data entry aren’t your gifts, tell us about yourself and we’ll find you another place with us or connect you with other good people who are bringing about positive change, share your passion and need your help. Together we’ll build a stronger, better San Antonio for ourselves and future generations.