Member Spotlight: Houston:reVision’s Operations Protocol to Address COVID-19


This week, TNOYS is publishing profiles on how several member organizations are responding to COVID-19. We hope that this information sharing will assist organizations in our community as they plan strategies, allocate resources, and work to keep youth and families safe. For additional information and resources on COVID-19, please visit TNOYS’ Emergency Response Resource Center.

Houston:reVision is a Houston-based organization whose mission is to leverage the power of community by connecting kids on the edge with mentors, positive peers and life-changing resources. In light of COVID-19, reVision has put in place a detailed operational response to provide critical support to their community. The plan addresses two main challenges: the need to ensure the health and safety of reVision’s youth clients, staff, volunteers and mentors, and the need to continue providing support and community to the vulnerable youth it serves.  

reVision works with “youth from hard places,” particularly those enmeshed at every point of the school to prison pipeline – teens in trouble at school, in juvenile detention, on probation – as well as ‘certified’ youth in adult prison. Many system-involved youth are also in the foster care system, experiencing homelessness, are refugees or gang-affected. reVision provides high-quality mentoring, case management, community support and educational programming to more than 1,100 youth per year with the help of over 450 volunteers.


Operational Response to COVID-19

Charles Rotramel,CEO of Houston:reVision had been monitoring the growing concerns from experts about the COVID-19 virus for several weeks and its potential impact on communities in the United States. He anticipated school and event closures, and in late February began planning on how Houston:reVision’s work with vulnerable youth could continue while observing social distancing recommendations. He also wanted to ensure the health and safety of reVision’s staff, volunteers and mentors. Many of reVision’s volunteers and mentors are older and in the demographic that appears to be most susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.   

On March 4, reVision put into place an Emergency Operations Protocol.  This protocol is in four phases:

Phase One: Awareness, Preparedness
  • Gather, input youth contact information on designated Slack channel 
  • Follow safety and or hygiene guidelines approved by the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (
  • Stock up on bottled water
  • Designated staff prepared to pack up necessary supplies to work remotely
  • Group chat site(s) identified and communicated to youth
Phase Two: Caution (public cautioned against being in public spaces, no actual closures)
  • Designated staff work remotely
  • Daily check-ins for all staff remotely
  • Designated staff continue to work as usual with youth
  • Follow safety and/or hygiene guidelines approved by the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (
  • Stock up on supplies (for hurricanes or self-quarantined staff: canned goods, bottled water, batteries, flashlights, full tanks of gas, first aid kits, manual can openers, prescription meds, hygiene items)
Phase Three: Some Closures/Cancellations
  • CommUnity Night suspended
  • First Friday suspended
  • Designated staff will continue to do in-person check-ins with youth, small group gatherings if church space is available
  • Follow safety and/or hygiene guidelines approved by the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (
  • Designated staff will connect with youth via text message, social media, group chats, correspondence (for incarcerated youth)
  • Daily check-in time for all staff
  • Stock up on sack lunch supplies (brown bags, baggies, food prep gloves, sandwich bread, sandwich meat and cheeses, individually packaged chips, cookies, fruit and veggie snacks, bottled water)
  • Supplies for group activities (for outdoors as much as possible)
Phase Four: School and/or Church Closures
  • No activities at school and/or church – communicate this to youth using text message, social media, group chats
  • If accessible, point person would collect mail two – three times per week, deposit checks
  • Designated staff make sack lunches at their homes, distribute on a daily rotation to apartment buildings and individual homes where youth reside
  • Weather permitting, eating would take place outdoors followed by group games/activities
  • Weather not permitting, lunches would be delivered to each individual youth’s apartment/house with a brief check-in on the youth and family
  • Designated staff work remotely and check-in with youth via group chats, correspondence
  • Daily staff check-ins

*Staff may include certain interns and volunteers


Serving Youth During a Disaster

On March 16, Charles Rotramel, staff members James Garcia Prats  and Josue Herrera, and volunteers Mike Davidson, Justin Hoang, and James’ brother Tim Garcia-Prats assembled sack lunches equipped with 2 turkey and cheese sandwiches, a bag of chips, a granola bar, candy, and a piece of fruit to distribute to over 50 kids at home and out of school.

As Charles explained, “Our daily staff Zoom call is how we start every day, checking in with each other and seeing how we are all feeling. Most staff work from home and talk to youth through social media, texts, and calls. Our first priority is staying connected to our young people. They lack social support, and they are experiencing this pandemic as a weird and unsettling time. Our youth have difficulty seeing when and how this might end. So our daily contacts with them are lifelines as they work through this scary time.”

Fortunately, some reVision staff, including James, are still able to make field visits while adhering to the  CDC social distancing guidelines. ReVision’s lunch routes allow them to do a curbside dropoff of a hearty meal, visually check in with young people, and still maintain proper boundaries and sanitation. 

James explained, “Since Monday we have been taking sack lunches out to reVision kids, mostly our younger middle school and high school soccer players, and our school based kids. Getting the lunches is important because they need to have access to regular meals that are nutritious and filling, especially because many depend on school lunches as their only meal of the day.

Bringing the meals continues our connection with them, a way to check in and to show we care and are still there. This connection piece is vital. They are hearing myths and exaggerated stories and their stress levels are high.  We can dispel some of the myths and allay some of their fears and give them accurate information on what is going on.”  

Houston:reVision intends to continue to provide support and community to the vulnerable youth it serves in whatever capacity it can during the “new normal” that social distancing and quarantining has brought.  To learn more about Houston:reVision and its work with youth please visit


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