Hurricane Harvey Heroes: Helping Houston in This Time of Need

I can’t even put into words what it’s like to live in the south.  While, as a city, we are #HoustonStrong and Houston will rebuild, to see volunteer groups from the surrounding states band together and bring in so much help is truly an indescribable feeling.

The number of organizations that have risked their safety to help others who are in greater danger is truly astounding.  I wish I could get out and help, but I’m surrounded by water.  We have food and supplies and our water and electricity are still on, but all of the roads surrounding us are under water.  Harvey2There will be major efforts in the coming days to help all of those displaced by the floods.  But please, before you donate cash or money, please do your research and make sure that you’re dealing with a reputable charity/non-profit.  While it sickens me to say this, there will still be people who are looking to unethically and/or illegally profit from this great tragedy.

At Projects Helping Houston we make it a general practice to ask for donated supplies rather than money as a way to help put people at ease about giving.  So many non-profits are able to use only a small portion of cash proceeds to their cause because administrative costs are so high.  I like to know that 100% of the money that I’m giving will be used for my intended purpose.  If I donate supplies rather than cash, there is a greater chance that what I’ve given will be used by somebody in need.  Here are some things you check before you give that might help put your mind at ease:

  1.  Do you or anybody you know have past experiences with this organization?
  2. What are they asking for?  Are they only asking for monetary donations or are they also stating a need for necessities such as hygiene products, food, prepared meals, blankets, etc.
  3. Do they have a website and/or other social media presence?
  4. Do they have an EIN?
  5. Are they working with other non-profits?
  6. Do they have a mailing address and phone number?

Keep in mind, that just because you can’t find the name of the charity that you’re looking into registered with the IRS or the State Comptroller, there may be legitimate reasons.  For example, Projects Helping Houston (PHH) is not registered with the Texas State Comptroller under Projects Helping Houston but as PHH Outreach Organization, Inc. and has a DBA in Galveston County as Projects Helping Houston.  This is due to the strict naming requirements set forth by the state (the first two words cannot be the same as any other corporation registered).

Currently Projects Helping Houston is doing a campaign for travel supplies, mentioned here, which started as an end of summer donation drive.  It appears that there an even greater need for it now.  As soon as we can get to a donation spot that has access to showers for people, we will drop these supplies off and continue to collect anything we can.

Some major shout-outs to the following organizations who have gone above and beyond in this time of tragedy:

Continue to stay safe Houston.  #PrayersforHouston

Hurricane Harvey Has me Hunkered Down

Well, now it’s just a waiting game. Harvey made landfall away from Houston. However, his reach is very long. I’m sitting here watching the water (picture from my front living room) slowly recede inch by inch praying it will be enough before the next band of rain hits. I’ve stress eaten what was probably a half of a box of cereal, and washed it down with some wine.

I needed new floors, but I would prefer it not be this way. We still have a ways to go before this all plays itself out, and I’m a huge ball of stress. Clenched jaw, tight chest and all. I can only imagine what those who were hit hardest by the hurricane are going through. Keeping all in my thoughts and prayers, especially emergency respondents who are away from their families.

Hunker Down for Harvey

HarveyIt seems that Harvey has everyone in a panic. I keep seeing posts and tweets about empty grocery store shelves. I think I even saw a few gas stations that were out of gas on the way to work! This is supposed to be something along the lines of what we experienced with Tropical Storm Allison where it just kind of hung over Houston and WOULD NOT LEAVE!

Once again, according to the National Hurricane Center’s Prediction in the graphic, Houston will be on the “dirty” side of the storm. It’s nice to see that people are taking the warnings seriously after all the storms that were hyped up recently, only to have them fizzle out with no real effects. Let’s keep in our thoughts and prayers all of the law enforcement, first responders and other emergency teams who put the public safety first and don’t have the option to hunker down or evacuate.

Ch.Ch.Ch.Changes

People spend more than 1/3 of their day either at work or getting to and from work.  And in some cases it’s more than 1/2 of their day!  That is way too much time to spend doing something that you don’t enjoy or that makes you miserable.  Not to mention how bad the stress and aggravation can be for your health (high blood pressure, anxiety, sleep disorders, heart disease, the list goes on and on).  I’ve already talked about how riding the bus has made a huge difference, but sometimes people don’t have as much control over their jobs/careers/means of support.

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I am one of the more fortunate ones.  I didn’t like what I was doing or the environment that I was doing it in…So after eight years of waiting until I vested in my retirement benefits I made a change, effective Monday.  I am lucky enough to not only have an abundance of opportunities available as a result of my skill-set, but to be able to stay with my current company and continue to work towards retirement.  Knowing that I don’t have to go back to that situation again makes me feel like I can breathe again.

I did take a pay cut, and people called me crazy.  But it was worth it to me.  I made the choice that my sanity and well-being of not only myself, but my family, were more important than the income that I would lose.  I can honestly say that I have not once looked back and/or regretted my decision.  I’m doing something that I love and doing it in a stress-free environment that has completely helped me alter my lifestyle back to a healthy and happy one.  And people have taken notice.