Paying it Forward: Helping Houston
Remember how helpless we all felt after the ground quit quaking and we re-entered our homes if they were still standing? Sirens, ham radio operator message relays, and National Guardsmen rescuing people trapped in the wreckage that Good Friday in 1964.
I was one scared kid—in a frontier town of 100,000 people.
Now some Alaskans are joining hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from all over the country to provide safe shelter and comfort to people impacted by the hurricane disaster from Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. The Red Cross of Alaska has already deployed one volunteer from Anchorage, with two more scheduled to leave Monday night. Another volunteer from Fairbanks is slated to depart for Austin by Tuesday.
After the Alaska Earthquake, Gov. William A. Egan designated the American Red Cross as the official relief agency to provide emergency assistance to Alaskans, so this response to Harvey by the Alaska National Guard and the Alaska Red Cross is another opportunity to pay back an old debt.
Anyone interested in volunteering can learn about opportunities and submit a volunteer application at: www.redcross.org/volunteer
It should take about two weeks to process volunteer applications; this requires complete background checks, Red Cross training, and volunteer prep before deployment to Texas, according to Tanguy Libbrecht, Red Cross of Alaska CEO. “To put things into perspective, we deployed about 200 volunteers to Hurricane Katrina,“ explained Libbrecht. “We are preparing for a volunteer response that could exceed Katrina.”
Sending people with skills to utilize is one thing but collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items from Alaska is not practical or cost-effective. The Red Cross depends on FINANCIAL donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Readers may help those affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting: //www.redcross.org/local/alaska/ways-to-donate, or calling 1- 800-RED CROSS. You may also text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.
One local small business launched a fundraiser that reportedly brought in thousands of dollars, according to a report on KTUU. Professional photographer, David Jensen opened his studio for a pet shoot and took photos of more than 60 dogs. Instead of asking for a fee he solicited donations for Harvey relief.
“I have a free day here in the studio, I don’t have other appointments, so why not go ahead and open up the studio to free sessions for a donation of any amount,” said Jensen. What he hoped might raise a few hundred dollars with a call to action in a FaceBook post turned into at least $4,300! //www.ktuu.com/content/news/Anchorage-photographer-raises-thousands-for-Houston-with-free-pet-photo-shoot-442437183.html
Once you have raised money for disaster relief, some other donation opportunities include:
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner established a Harvey Relief Fund at The Greater Houston Community Foundation. The organization connects donors with a network of nonprofits and innovative solutions in the social sector.
GlobalGiving, which calls itself the largest global crowdfunding community, has a goal of raising $2 million for its Harvey Relief Fund. Immediate needs for food, water and shelter will be addressed first, then they will be transitioned to long-term recovery efforts.
United Way of Greater Houston has launched a relief fund for storm-related needs and recovery. The organization says it already maintains a disaster relief fund but anticipates the needs of Harvey will far exceed those existing resources.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has also launched a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. The strategy of this organization emphasizes “investing well rather than investing quickly, addressing the greatest needs and gaps in funding that may be yet to emerge.”
GoFundMe, the social fundraising site, has created a landing page that gathers the campaigns on its platform related to Harvey.
The Salvation Army says it is providing food and water to first responders and preparing for massive feeding efforts for residents.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief says its teams began responding before Harvey made landfall and continues on-the-ground relief work.
Samaritan’s Purse is accepting donations as well as volunteers for Harvey disaster relief for the coming months.
It has been a long time since Alaska has called on other Americans to come to our aid in the case of a major disaster. Today—right now—might be a good time to make a contribution to our Texas brethren knowing they will be there when it is inevitably our own turn to dig out.