Op-Ed

Always Look for the Helpers

1 Oct , 2017  

I’m proud to live in Houston, Texas, and have never been more proud than now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. For over a week, the world watched images of the devastating Category 4 hurricane and the slow, drenching rains of “Biblical proportions” that engulfed our part of the state, covering large parts of it in up to 52″ of water in a matter of two days. An estimated one in every ten structures in Harris County was flooded. To put the devastation into perspective, this video shows images of major, interstate highways that look like rivers. Parts of the city that normally don’t border waterways could only be traveled by boat.

Local businessman, Jim McIngvale, known by Houstonians as “Mattress Mack,” demonstrates the best of Houstonians’ strength, compassion, and values in action. This isn’t the first time McIngvale has stepped up – unprompted – to help the people of Houston.

#HoustonStrong isn’t just a slogan. Neighbors helping neighbors is the norm, not the exception. For all the bad press Texas gets, often deservedly so, ordinary Texans really do deserve a better reputation. In the midst of the crisis, no one cared about race, religion, or sexual orientation. No one asked about political party affiliation. And our “neighbors” included other parts of Texas, Louisiana, and other states.

Houstonians know how to pay it forward, too. They are stepping up to help recovery in Puerto Rico; the Houston Astros, who count among their players and coaches several natives of the island, are sending 240,000 lbs. of supplies, there, as well.

Volunteers

Volunteers are a special breed of people, and Red Cross volunteers always step up in times of need, their mission, to “provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.” These are their guiding principles:

Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

  • Humanity: to prevent and alleviate human suffering;
  • Impartiality: to relieve the suffering of individuals without discriminating as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions;
  • Neutrality: to enjoy the confidence of all by not taking sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political racial religions or ideological nature;
  • Independence: to maintain autonomy from the government;
  • Voluntary Service: to provide relief without being prompted in any manner by desire for gain;
  • Unity: to maintain only one Red Cross in any one country;
  • Universality: to ensure that the movement is worldwide and that all societies have equal status and responsibilities

Feeling inspired? Volunteer with the American Red Cross, Houston Food Bank, CERT:

Outside of Texas or the U.S., look for volunteer opportunities within your own community. The world can’t do without all its helpers.

I leave you with a word straight from the mouth of our beloved Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers”):


This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest. Our #WATWB cohosts for this month are: Michelle Wallace , Shilpa Garg,  Andrea Michaels,  Peter Nena,  Emerald Barnes. Please do visit, read, and share this month’s many #WATWB posts! Thank you.

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; and A New Leaf for Lyle. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young at heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

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5 Responses

  1. Nabanita says:

    You know I had read somewhere that during crisis ordinary men and women become extraordinary. This is what I see and read about all the time whenever something like Harvey happens. That’s the spirit of humanity that I pray never dies.

    • It’s true. Unfortunately, “good in a crisis” tends to blow over too fast, with some people. But we see it often enough to have hope and retain a bit of faith in humanity.

  2. Laura Routh says:

    Holly, I thought about you during the hurricane and hoped that you were OK. I love the clip of Fred Rogers, above. I miss him. There’s just something about his voice that soothes and calms.

    I live within an hour of California’s Wine Country, where devastating fires are still burning. I learned that one of my son’s friends and his family barely escaped. After he got his family to safety, he went back to rescue an elderly couple. I went on their fundraiser page that a friend started and it indicates that they are using some of the money to help others. And they lost everything. Hope. Faith in humanity.

    By the way, I love your new blog!

    • Thank you! Have you ever noticed how often the greatest generosity comes from those who have the least to give? What they have plenty of is empathy. I hope you and your family are safe!

  3. Laura Routh says:

    Yes, we’re safe, and thanks for asking! We live close to Sacramento and away from the hills. And I have noticed the empathy that comes from those who have lost so much. It gives me goosebumps.

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