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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Alumnus helps Latinx community through bilingual errand service

Diana+Anzaldua+%28left%29+and+Jason+Rubio+%28right%29+help+distribute+8%2C000+masks+and+personal+protective+equipment+%28PPE%29+kits+for+those+in+need+in+front+of+Wayside+School+in+South+Austin.
By Photo courtesy of Jason Rubio
Diana Anzaldua (left) and Jason Rubio (right) help distribute 8,000 masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for those in need in front of Wayside School in South Austin.

As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact the Latinx community, a Texas State alumnus and his wife have worked together to develop Ayuda—an errand service group that accommodates both Spanish and English speaking users.
The at-risk reality Latinxs face due to COVID-19 is what originally encouraged alumnus Jason Rubio and his spouse, Diana Anzaldua, to take action. The Austin-based couple began Ayuda by creating a Facebook group that allows members to submit requests for services like grocery shopping and prescription pickups.
“We realized there was a service gap in the area with COVID throughout the English-Spanish speaking population, so that really prompted us to start this initiative to reach that group,” Anzaldua said.
Starting with 202 members, Ayuda now has over 600 Facebook members and has made its way to various cities including San Antonio, Houston and Brownsville, as well as states like Florida and Virginia.
Individuals can volunteer with Ayuda by signing up to be an errand runner, participating in local “Ayundante” (helper) drives or donating money or face masks.
Similar to service apps like Favor and Instacart, people who use Ayuda can submit a request, and group members looking to earn extra money can accept those requests. However, unlike other errand service platforms, Ayuda takes 0% from the transactions earned compared to other apps which can charge service runners over 20%
All errand runners are independent contractors and must collect their earnings through non-cash methods such as PayPal, Venmo or Cash App.
From the group’s start back in early July to now, the program’s efforts have been widely recognized through various media outlets across the nation, such as Univision and Yahoo News. The attention Ayuda has received has allowed the group to reach a wider audience.
“We sent out a press release to NPR, and they picked up the story,” Anzaldua said. “That same day we started getting mass increase and people wanting to be a part of the group and it kind of just snowballed from there.”
Valerie Galicia, an Ayuda user, says the platform has helped make the stress of social distancing and adjusting to COVID-19 easier to manage.
“When the pandemic first started, the H-E-B Curbside slots were so full; the next available [slot] would be like two weeks out,” Galicia said. “It was so frustrating and scary because I didn’t want to take my kids with me inside the store, so curbside was the only option I was leaning toward.”
It wasn’t until a friend shared and added Galicia to Ayuda’s Facebook group when she realized she could shop from the security of her own home without the waiting that takes place with curbside delivery.
“It was nice because I was able to get a few things for my kids and get some groceries without having to worry, ‘when am I going to be able to get it’, and I didn’t have to worry about taking my kids inside, ” Galicia said.
With the new demand for resources, Rubio and Anzaldua created a website for Ayuda to help individuals access the service from any city or state.
“After we realized how much bigger [Ayuda] was getting we turned to the website because we realized creating Facebook pages for every single city wasn’t feasible,” Rubio said.
The couple is currently working on developing an app to reach new locations.
“There [have] been people all over the world in contact with us—it’s really surprising,” Rubio said. “We got people from Colombia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and they said, ‘hey how do we get this here, we really need help’,” Rubio said.
To help cover the expenses that come with working with app developers, Rubio and Anzaldua created a GoFundMe to help raise money so people all over the world can quickly gain the resources and help they need.
Even with the distress brought on by COVID-19 toward the Latinx community, Rubio and Anzaldua have continued to push through.
“Historically we have been a resilient population, and I think this is just another way we have adapted to that. We continue to be resilient, we continue to help each other,” Anzaldua said. “We’re continuing to organize things for our own people because we recognize no one’s out there trying to do a lot of this work, so we have to do the work for ourselves. We have to do what we need to do to survive.”
For more information about Ayuda visit its website or Facebook page.

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