September 7, 2017
One year ago, David, once a regular at a Galilee recovery group, was being released from jail. With help from friends and recovery peers, he negotiated the parole process and bought a train ticket to Houston, Texas, where his mother lives.
“If you told me while I was incarcerated that in a year’s time, I’d be free but standing in my driveway chest-deep in water, I’d have worried,” says David. “But there’s no sense in worrying, I guess.”
David went to Texas to rebuild his life. Now, in the swirl of events since Hurricane Harvey hit, he’s lost his home, two vehicles, and nearly all of his possessions. Yet David still has hope.
A photograph from inside David’s flooded home in Houston, Texas.
“What’s good is that through this experience, I met a lot of compassionate, Christian people. And not all of them technically Christian by any means. I’ll always remember those who showed up to help.”
“I’m alive and Mom’s alive. Even my parole officer made it out, for what that’s worth. I have a good boss who is committed to keeping our garage open for business, even if he can’t guarantee me hours. Rather than fire me, he gave me a promotion and told me that we’re going to be doing a lot more than brakes in the coming months.”
“I’ve already got my hands dirty helping people.”
The power of showing up: David received a visit from Rev. Mark Goring (or as David called him, “Father Sandals”) at the George R. Brown Convention Center after being evacuated.
For those of us watching from afar, the most pressing question is exactly that: how do we get our hands dirty helping the many thousands, possibly millions, of our fellow citizens who are suffering in the wake of Harvey and, soon, Irma?
Consulting with UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Galilee offers these suggestions for what we can do right now to help the victims of Harvey, Irma, and all disasters:
5 Things You Can Do
- 1. PRAY. We go to help not because we expect reward or acclaim, but because it is our Christian duty. Let’s remember that our first job as Christians is to pray! This glorifies God and centers our response to tragedy firmly in His will. Pray for those whose lives have been impacted by storms and other disasters. Please also pray for the Early Response Teams, disaster coordinators, and the many volunteers who are working tirelessly to provide relief.
- 2. MAKE RELIEF KITS. We’re good at this at Galilee. In fact, last fall we assembled hundreds of disaster relief and flood relief buckets. The buckets we already packed are the very kits that will be used to clean up after Harvey and Irma. We will be making more kits as a service project soon. You can also make your own. Send complete kits to UMCOR’s Relief Supply Network.
- 3. DONATE MONEY. Partner with Galilee in responding to the needs of communities and individuals impacted by disaster. You can donate online or put a check in our offering basket. Make checks payable to Galilee UMC, but make a note that this donation is for “UMCOR #901670,” which is the fund for domestic disasters.
- 4. GIVE WISELY. Donate only those items requested. While we all have items in our homes that can be used by disaster victims, please don’t send anything that has not been asked for. Keeping the mail, roads, and logistical depots clear is crucial to effective disaster response. If we hear of items that are needed, we will put out a call. Keep an eye out for the Galilee eNews, Facebook, and the monthly bulletin.
- 5. VOLUNTEER. Our next mission is the Help Families Return Home trip scheduled for the week of October 25-29. We’ll be helping victims of last year’s storms in Virginia Beach. More service opportunities will follow. Galilee has a well trained and experienced Early Response Team, so consider getting trained.
Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, the forest fires in the west, and disasters overseas will be longterm frustrations for many millions of people. As David says of his situation in South Texas, “It’s stressful, but everyone around me is in the same boat.”
David says about Galilee, “I tell you, the people of Galilee Church are amazing and I thank them for what they have done to assist myself and others.”