Assisting Those Affected by Tropical Storm Harvey

Written by: Ann Dillon, President General
September 6, 2017
[UPDATED 9/12/17:  Additional information to address Hurricane Harvey AND Hurricane Irma assistance]

Following the devastation from Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, I have been communicating with appropriate people in affected areas as well as those in our NSDAR leadership to identify ways the National Society can most efficiently assist those affected by this terrible tragedy. The response from our members across the world who are looking for ways they might be able to help has been heartwarming.

As I mentioned in a message from last week regarding the storm, we encourage members who are looking for ways to help those affected by the storm to support trusted national or local area disaster relief organizations providing assistance in the affected areas through monetary and other requested donations, or through volunteer opportunities arranged through these local organizations. In addition to setting up administrative DAR membership assistance for chapters affected, we have been investigating and developing plans for assistance to the affected regions based on our Society’s mission areas as well as how we can help support Daughters who have been personally affected.

I have been in touch with the National Chairs of the DAR Service for Veterans and Community Classroom Committees who have both developed plans and recommendations for members who would like to assist affected veterans and schools in the areas devastated by flooding.

More detailed instructions and contact information regarding the ways you can assist are provided in an announcement located on the Members’ Website. If you are interested in learning more about these options for helping communities hurt by Harvey, please visit the announcement “Assisting Those Affected by Tropical Storm Harvey.”

As an overview, these are options for you to consider if you are looking for additional ways to help those affected by the storm:

Supporting Area Veterans Affected by Storm
Several veterans’ facilities were severely impacted by the storm devastation. These facilities are requesting gift cards in small denominations to stores like: Walmart, Target, HEB, Kroger, etc. When mailing a gift card include a note that states that the gift card is given in support of VCTS and is intended for veterans impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  Social workers will distribute gift cards to veterans in need throughout the area at each of the facilities. For more details and complete contact information please see the members’ announcement.

Gift cards can be mailed to:

Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
ATTN: Voluntary Services, Barbra Bell, Veterans
2002 Holcombe Blvd.
Houston, TX 77030

If you have questions, contact the DAR Service for Veterans Committee:
Cheryl Brown, National Chair, frankk5600@aol.com

Supporting Houston Schools Affected by Storm
The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas with more than 215,000 students in 325 school sites where 75% of the student population is below the poverty level. The district has set up a plan to receive donations of almost everything. The Community Classroom Committee is suggesting DAR chapters may want to assist with donations of school supplies for students from preschool through high school.  Be sure to include a note with your chapter name and your chapter address to let the Houston Independent School District know who is donating the items. For more details on supply suggestions and complete contact information please see the members’ announcement.

Donations can be sent to:

Delmar Fieldhouse
2020 Mangum Rd
Houston, TX 77092

If you have questions, contact the Community Classroom Committee:
Linda Winthers, National Chair, lindawinthers@comcast.net

In addition to encouraging our members to find ways like these to help communities struggling after the storm, the National Society will also be donating money to DAR mission based relief initiatives. The specifics and amount of the donation must first be discussed and authorized by the Executive Committee at our meeting in October.

I have also been in touch with both the Texas State Regent and the Louisiana State Regent about members who may have been affected in their areas. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in the affected areas and we encourage members to support the rebuilding of those various communities. The most severe damage and devastation has been from flooding in Southeast Texas and we believe, as the National Society, we may be able to do the most good by focusing on that region.

Sadly, we do know that many of our members are among the displaced and have ruined homes, cars and other property. The Texas chapters in Division IV, V and IX are being assessed by their District Directors and Chapter Regents to compile a list of families in the Texas DAR who could use assistance.

Supporting Texas Daughters Personally Affected by Storm
At the recommendation of Judy Ostler, Texas State Regent, as well as advice from others who are assisting those affected, we recommend that if you would like to specifically help DAR members and their families who have been personally affected, you can donate gift cards from stores that sell essential goods in their communities such as Walmart, Target, HEB, Kroger, Amazon, etc. The District Directors will collect these gift cards and distribute them to the Texas members and chapters most in need. If you would like to show your support but are unable to donate monetary gift cards, you are welcome to write letters of encouragement which you can also send to the District Directors to be distributed accordingly. For more details and complete contact information please see the members’ announcement.

Please contact these Texas DAR District Directors to mail gift cards or for any questions:
Shirley Bland, District IV District Director, sjtwbland@yahoo.com
Jan Garrison, District V District Director, drsjgpmr@yahoo.com
Valerie Haesly-Parson, District XI District Director, valparson@gmail.com

In my personal conversations with these Texas District Directors, my heart ached at the harrowing stories they relayed to me from their communities. But they also testified of amazing, heartwarming stories of people helping one another from unexpected sources. One mentioned that when the storm tracked back out into the Gulf and then was headed back towards Houston, a perfect double rainbow appeared in the sky and Harvey finally moved on to the east. Despite their fear and pain, I was comforted by the sense of hope coming from these members who represented the strength and courage of these ravaged Texas communities.

The healing and rebuilding after the flooding is sure to last for years. It’s so hard to write about the devastation of Harvey even as we currently watch Hurricane Irma push toward Puerto Rico and Florida. Some of our Daughters, along with hundreds of thousands of others, are experiencing unprecedented loss, while more still are preparing for the next big storm.  Our hearts are with them all and we will continue to explore and share ways we can help support them from afar.

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