I’ve seen devastation, tragedy and loss but also love, determination and hope as I’ve volunteered in Texas the past four days.
I was honored to come alongside Convoy of Hope, a nonprofit that specializes in disaster relief in times of great loss like Hurricane Harvey. Convoy of Hope is one of four nonprofit organizations approved for matching funds by the Movement Foundation.
With a staff of only nine, Convoy of Hope has distributed 2.6 million pounds of relief supplies to more than 100,000 people throughout 41 cities affected by Hurricane Harvey. Those are HUGE numbers, so let me break it down for you a little by telling you about a few of the 800 people I met who were helped this week.
One of my volunteer roles was to greet people at the distribution center and let them know about the process.
The lines started forming up to two hours before distribution started each day. Many people had no idea what they were waiting for and most looked dazed and overwhelmed. I heard some saying, “I just heard you all could help.” The desperation in their faces when they would ask what help was being provided was heart wrenching.
In addition to Convoy of Hope, this church housed several other organizations. At this one location, residents found FIMA which manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Samaritan’s Purse which helps with house clean up, Heart to Heart which was providing medical assistance and free tetanus shots and a Billy Graham Rapid Response team which provides crisis counseling and prayer.
I met young, single mothers who had several kids living in a home with no electricity, water and who had a refrigerator full of rotten food.
I met grandparents who were living with two to three families because they were evacuated from their homes.
I met several elderly women who live alone with no air conditioning and were eating out of coolers.
I met people who sat in line multiple times to get items for their neighbors who didn’t have cars or the ability to get out.
I met men who work hourly jobs who can’t return to work until further notice because their machines were ruined. And even though they won’t get a paycheck for an undetermined amount of time, they still volunteered to help the relief effort keep going.
I met the members of one household who had a newborn, a 19 month old, and three toddlers, and they were out of diapers.
One lady said, with tears in her eyes as she held my hand, “I am always the one who goes out and serves others when things like this happen, I never thought I would be the one sitting in this line.”
You could see their entire countenance change when they heard of all of the help onsite. By the time they made it to the station where people loaded up their cars with supplies, many had tear-filled eyes and a new overwhelmed look — one that looked more like thankfulness and hope.
Hope over Harvey was the phrase used by the church that was supporting all of these organizations and in the local community. That was the mission and will continue to be the mission in the months to come.
Please keep praying for the communities affected by this storm. They are feeling broken but God is very much alive in the communities and His people are doing His work to shed some light in the darkness.
How you can help
Movement is raising money to support these organizations by offering a custom #heartsforhouston T-shirt; 100 percent of the sales will go to disaster relief. Shirts cost $20. The sale ends Sept. 8.