Day 2 started early travelling to Houston-Aldine to visit the Buckner Family Hope Center under the leadership of Shawna Roy, director. My team and I went there to visit staff and volunteers as well as children and families affected by Harvey. The Houston-Aldine area was impacted heavily by rain, wind, and flooding. While the Buckner buildings suffered very little damage, Buckner staff who live in the area suffered quite a bit of loss and in some cases a total loss. We met a group from Church at Eleven22 in Jacksonville, Florida who had driven 18 hours the night before to deliver a truckload and two U-Haul trailers full of supplies such as diapers, formula, baby food, wipes, shampoo, food, water, and clothing totaling over $20,000. They left shortly after we arrived to drive back to Jacksonville.
We were also met by a team of volunteers from Noble Energy in Houston including the CFO Ken Fisher, Buckner Houston Young Professionals, Aldine ISD Teachers and staff, and staff from Halliburton who were on hand to help sort out supplies and prepare for children and families who would be coming at noon that day. Volunteers from Toney Construction and Haliburton committed to handling disaster repairs to the buildings. Texas State Rep Armando Walle and his family were also volunteering.
Ruby, a Buckner staff member, lost two rooms of furniture and wooden floors in her home. She and her husband were on hand to volunteer. They said “We know our things will be taken care of one way or another. We felt we needed to be here to serve others.” Buckner staff who suffered great loss showed up to serve others. That’s the Buckner way. I gathered all volunteers and staff to thank them and we offered a prayer before we left.
Next, we travelled to Beaumont to visit residents and staff at Buckner Calder Woods Retirement Community. We navigated our way there and again found residents and staff dry and safe. I witnessed the abiding commitment of our staff to stay at the campus through the storm to ensure our seniors were attended to and safe. Those same staff members who live in outlying areas suffered partial and in some cases complete loss of their homes and cars. Nevertheless, they were there to serve our residents. Another surprise was the supplies set on tables for our staff. In a matter of moments all the aid was taken and the staff felt cared for. These items came from the shipment that arrived from Florida the day before at Houston-Aldine Buckner Family Hope Center.
Chaplain Lynn Fontenot brought his RV to the Campus to provide for additional lodging and bathroom space. BRS staff came from San Angelo and Austin to supplement the work of Calder Woods Staff. I thanked the staff and shared a devotional thought and we prayed with them before we left. Ben Mazarra and his team are an example of what it means to shine hope. On our way back to Dallas we stopped by the Buckner Children’s Village to greet another group of volunteers who were preparing a humanitarian aid distribution to Foster Care Alumni and families. It was an amazing day and a high privilege to see first-hand, the outstanding work our staff and volunteers are doing in the wake of Harvey. Hope shines here.