Autumn Brings Little to No Relief to Hurricane Maria Survivors
For most of us, autumn is a time of joy and abundance. Traditionally the period of harvest, we spend this time of year celebrating the changing leaves, cooler temperatures, the upcoming holiday season and, for me in particular, the return of football and the World Series.
But for many of those we serve, the coming of fall does not bring with it any relief from the challenges they battle every day. Hunger and homelessness are problems for all seasons, and we are coming to the time of year when many of our most vulnerable clients need us most. As the temperatures start to drop, a warm place to sleep and a meal can in some cases mean the difference between life and death.
This year, autumn includes the additional challenge of responding to the needs of those affected by three serious hurricanes that made landfall in the past two months in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. In early October, we established “Volunteers of America Esperanza” (Spanish for “hope”) to coordinate volunteers and other resources in response to Puerto Rico’s dire human service needs following Hurricane Maria. Teams of these volunteers are now working with the Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico to deliver much-needed resources to struggling people on the island. We launched a similar effort to help those in the Houston-area still recovering from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.
This fall, as we start to prepare for the upcoming holidays, we must think not only of the joys of this season but also of the great need all around us. While the environment may seem colder and darker, all people have the capacity to overcome what burdens them and rebuild their lives, whether it’s recovering from a natural disaster or other more personal circumstances. It may take a long winter of struggle to get there, but just as we can count on the falling leaves of autumn, we also know that there always will be a springtime of rebirth.
Please consider supporting Volunteers of America’s efforts to help those in Puerto Rico who were affected by the recent hurricanes.