Houston Woman Wire

NEWS Crafting a Legacy Luncheon set for October 14

Due to the spread of COVID-19 and for the safety of valued friends and patrons, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft's 11th Annual Crafting a Legacy Luncheon has been rescheduled for the fall and will take place on Wednesday, October 14.

This year's luncheon honors Phyllis Childress, a creative force and extraordinary volunteer, who has served as board president twice, led major fundraising efforts, and advocated for the nonprofit arts center in every imaginable way over the last 15 years. The program will include lively remarks by Phyllis' best PALS (Pinkie Searls, Anne Lamkin Kinder, Lynn Baird, and Susan Padon), and guests will have the opportunity to bid on fine craft made by celebrated artists in the silent auction and purchase stunning centerpiece artworks.

NEWS Texans warned to guard for phone scammers

People in Texas are being warned to be extra vigilant as scam callers are likely to ramp up their activity over the next few weeks to take advantage of increasing amounts of people being at home due to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

CPR Call Blocker, makers of the US’s best-selling call blocking device, is predicting that scammers and fraudsters will be ready to strike and take advantage of the situation as more states go into lockdown, forcing people to stay at home, and is warning people in Texas to be on their guard for a rise in bogus calls.

In a bid to beat the scammers who are likely to take advantage of this extraordinary situation, CPR Call Blocker has compiled the top five active scams that people in Texas should watch out for over the next few weeks as the Coronavirus situation unfolds:

Fake test kits scam – someone may call claiming to offer free Coronavirus testing kits and will ask you for your personal information and health insurance details. A common version of this scam targets diabetic individuals that are higher risk, where a scam caller will offer both a free Coronavirus test kit and a free diabetic monitor.

FDIC scam – scam-callers posing as employees from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will ask you for sensitive information, such as your social security number and bank account information, over the phone as a precondition to receive federal money. Remember the FDIC would never make unsolicited phone calls asking for personal information and money, and especially would not put pressure on you or threaten you.

Charity scam – you may get a call from someone claiming to be from a charitable organisation which is collecting donations for individuals, groups or areas affected by Coronavirus. The caller will ask you to send cash donations in the mail, by wire transfer or by gift card.

Healthcare provider scam – scam-callers pretending to work for a healthcare provider will tell you that a relative or friend has been treated for Coronavirus, and then demand immediate payment for treatment before threatening legal action if you don’t pay. Healthcare providers would not contact you this way.

Student loan scams – you receive a call to tell you that new measures due to the Coronavirus outbreak will have an effect on your student loan, and that you need to ring a different phone number to find out how the new measures will impact your future payment obligations. If you ring this number, a scammer may ask you for personal information like your social security number and credit card details.

Davies said: “As more and more restrictions are put into place in the U.S., we predict scammers are going to take advantage of more people being at home and, with many of those people also being distracted or stressed about the Coronavirus situation, this could be a recipe for disaster. When we’re feeling vulnerable or distracted, it can be too easy to say “yes” to something without checking first whether it’s genuine.

“We’re warning people in Texas to bear this in mind and we would always strongly recommend never giving your bank details or paying for something over the phone that you’re unsure of. Especially if the call you receive is the first time you have heard of any payment that needs to be made.”

If you want to stop receiving scam and nuisance calls, follow CPR Call Blocker’s quick three-step guide to stopping unwanted calls:

  • Register with the National Do Not Call Registry – visit DoNotCall.gov.
  • Don’t consent to being contacted – get your phone number taken off directories and look out for tick boxed on all marketing correspondence to see if ticking or unticking them will prevent your details being passed on to third parties.
  • Consider getting a call blocker.

If you think you may be receiving scam calls, here are a few ways to protect yourself:

Don't reveal personal details. Never give out personal or financial information such as your bank account details or PIN – even if the caller claims to be from your bank.

Hang up. If you feel harassed or intimidated, end the call. You have the right not to feel pressurised.

Ring the organization. If you’re unsure whether the caller is genuine, you can always ring the company they claim to be from. Make sure you find the number yourself and don't use one provided by the caller.

Don't be rushed. Scammers will try to rush you into providing personal details. They may say they have a time-limited offer or claim your bank account is at risk if you don't give them the information they need right away.

Davies continued: “If you suspect you may have compromised your bank account, contact your bank or card provider as soon as possible. It is also advisable to check your bank and card statements regularly for unauthorised charges as a matter of course.”


NEWS Nonprofits collaborate to donate N95 masks and other PPE

Houston Habitat for Humanity, Houston Community ToolBank, Houston Responds and 13 other nonprofits have collected and distributed over 19,700 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to area hospitals.

Since 2015, the Houston Community ToolBank has been working with nonprofits all across the region to help with community projects and events, lending out tools to organizations working on projects of all sizes. As a hub of the nonprofit community, the ToolBank saw an opportunity and reached out to over 400 area nonprofits to ask for donations of PPE to be disbursed to area hospitals.

“As members of a community that is frequently on the front lines of disaster relief efforts, we knew that our partners keep numerous PPE items on hand,” Erika Hornsey, executive director of the ToolBank explained. “Once we understood how bad the situation at local hospitals was, we knew we had to try to do something.”

Last Saturday, the collection efforts began with posts on Facebook and emails to the ToolBank’s members. Soon, other nonprofits became involved. Allison Hay from Houston Habitat for Humanity helped to spread the world amongst the Harvey focused Long Term Recovery Committee and the Houston Housing Working Group. Houston Responds, a nonprofit that oversees coalitions of churches usually working on natural disaster response and recovery, organized drivers to pick up and deliver collected items. The ToolBank’s After Hours container, a modified shipping container with 4 rooms and smart locks, allowed items to be dropped off and picked up with no human contact between drivers.

Within 72 hours, over 19,700 PPE items were collected and distributed to 13 area hospitals and clinics. The number of items collected and distributed are as follows as of today: 13,334 N95 masks, 5,635 eye protectors, 571 Tyvek suits, 48 boot covers and 12 face shields.

About Houston Community ToolBank
The Houston Community ToolBank serves community-based organizations by providing tools, equipment & expertise to empower their most ambitious goals. Since opening our doors in late 2014, the ToolBank has consistently increased our member organizations’ capacity to make a difference.

About Houston Habitat for Humanity
Since 1987, individuals, businesses and groups in our community have joined Houston Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place people call home. Through shelter, Houston Habitat for Humanity empowers people to build a better future for themselves and their families by completing financial and home maintenance training, building homes alongside volunteers, and by purchasing their homes with an affordable mortgage.

About Houston Responds
Houston Responds unites, empowers and mobilizes churches across Greater Houston to expedite long-term recovery and respond to future disasters. Since their founding post-Hurricane Harvey, Houston Responds has launched and supported 12+ coalitions of local churches, each with 20+ churches in their network.


NEWS Houston Health Department reports two new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department announced two new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Thursday, bringing the city's total to 68.

Investigations conducted by the department will identify potential contacts exposed to the virus. The department will provide close contacts guidance about the virus and monitor them for the development of symptoms.

Social distancing guidance for all Houstonians:

  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical care situations.
  • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve.
  • Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • void close contact with people who are sick, especially if you are at higher risk for coronavirus.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Houstonians may visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 for updated information about local risk, routine protective actions, frequently asked questions, communication resources, rumor control, emergency preparedness tips and more.

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