Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria Impacted Our Clients
In our line of business, Volunteers of America is accustomed to helping those most in need overcome challenges and rebuild lives. That’s hard work even under the best of circumstances; so imagine how much harder that task becomes at times of devastating natural disaster. During the past month, three places where Volunteers of America provides services – Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico – have been significantly damaged by powerful hurricanes. In Puerto Rico, we’re still working to establish contact with clients and employees who have lost electricity and the ability to communicate around the island or to the mainland. One program in San Juan has been closed entirely, at least for the short-term, because of the lack of basic utilities and other resources on the island following Hurricane Maria.
In my native Texas, millions living along the Gulf Coast continue to recover from high winds and massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Shortly after the storm, our Texas affiliate established a distribution center for basic supplies at its Houston and Conroe offices. While the effort started in support of existing clients, it quickly expanded to the broader community. Assistance focused specifically on the working poor, as they are a group disproportionally hurt by this type of disaster. Items collected and distributed include cleaning supplies, toiletries, bedding, basic household items and gift cards for people to reestablish their homes after being displaced. This rebuilding effort surely will continue for months and years to come. In addition to the immediate distribution of basic need supplies, Volunteers of America Texas is focused on longer-term recovery, especially in its job training programs. The organization is now looking for new classroom space for training classes, and is working with Houston-area employers to find new jobs for clients who may now be out of work due to the storm.
In Florida, Volunteers of America is the state’s largest provider of supportive housing for homeless veterans, serving 13 communities from Pensacola to Key West. We also provide affordable housing and supportive services for low-income families and seniors, and serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These are the types of people who watched their homes, possessions, and futures washed away after Hurricane Irma, and we expect an influx of new clients looking for help in the near-term.
Our efforts to help people rebuild their lives depends on the support of those like you, and the need for that support will not go away anytime soon. Please consider helping our efforts in Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas.