It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago, Texas was in the middle of one real crisis when winter storm Uri swept the state over the weekend of Valentine’s Day. Millions of people are left without electricity or water for days due to the grid being unprepared for temperatures below freezing and some without water for weeks. If you were following up at the time, you might have read directly from Camille about her experience and how to help your community and me sure Your social feed is overflowing with Texans, who have started to act to help each other.
When I wake up at about 1:30 am on Monday, February 15thorder my power was suddenly turned off (I slept with two loudspeakers and one fan), I didn’t think much of it. I know we’ll have intermittent blackouts that are supposed to last maybe 10 to 30 minutes, so I’m not too worried. When I woke up around 8:30 am, I noticed the power was still on and Twitter turned on – that’s when I got nervous. We’ll know soon that outages will affect the entire state; It’s 4.4 million to be exact and no one knows when we will have electricity or water back. The joy of day walking in the snow quickly turned into fear at sunset, the temperature of my apartment dropped 38 degrees, and I only had a few cans of tuna, rice cake, bananas and avocados to get us through the week.
It’s a very wild feeling to be in the midst of a crisis and not even realizing it for another day or so.
Because our building has no electricity or water, our internet is also quite unreliable. Whenever I try to make a Zoom call or sign in to Microsoft Teams, most of it fails.
It was on Day 2 of the storm, I paused and thought it was okay, I had no electricity and water, but what should I do? What resources can I use to help others? Phones, cars and lots of connections in town – it’s time to help. it’s as simple as that.
While scrolling on Instagram, I found a number of different nonprofits that have very specific requirements and needs to help the community from diapers to clothing and shoes, to non-easy products. spoiled, feminine products, water and everything related. I started making calls and texting to brands and people I’ve worked with before, inside and outside Texas, to see if they could help, and most even without a pause. They were all quick to take action – diaper brands, women’s car brands, cosmetic brands, detergent suppliers, clothing brands, etc.
By sharing on social media the people who helped, many brands and others reached out, and before I knew it, I had friends and strangers who sent me Venmo to help buy the property. when the grocery store opens helping Austin. It is beautiful. I’ve always been amazed at the strength of the community. I’ve heard from so many people living outside Texas that they don’t know about the devastation going on because the media doesn’t cover much. That’s the thing about a hurricane like this – Texas doesn’t have the devastating image a hurricane or wildfire might have, so it’s hard for some people to see what’s really going on.
Knowing how easy it was to help in my situation, I was inspired to keep acting year-round instead of just in crisis mode. Here’s what I learned and how you can also help your community.
Find organizations that match your values and find out about them
There are many people and organizations that are doing well and making an impact in the community, and it’s important to know WHO and how they are doing this with your dollars and donations. This is where it is imperative to ask questions. For example, I have been trying to raise and support specific organizations that are using dollars and donations back to minor and underserved communities; People who live in the food desert and don’t have access to Instagram to see where they can get free tacos during the storm.
Examine your own resources
There are a lot of mums and friends who share that they feel guilty about not being able to go out and volunteer, but I remind them that they have more access to volunteer time. At one point in time, one of the local supporters asked for regular toiletries and travel sizes as well as shoes, jackets, and pants to be used lightly. I reminded one of her influential friends that she gets a lot of products from brands, and she graciously gave away bags of products she didn’t use. Likewise, if you don’t have time to donate volunteer or material products, consider who is requesting funding. Find out how they use the money and how you can continue to donate on a consistent basis. And if time or money isn’t an option, but you have high connectivity, ask! You will be amazed at the extent to which brands want to help.
Commit to volunteering every month
Need to talk to a friend? Use happy hours into volunteer hours. This gives you a chance to learn more about an organization you’re curious about, and also get the chance to meet new people. During the storm, I was amazed at the number of volunteers I have not seen since before the pandemic. It’s hard to grasp the feeling, but it’s also a bit emotional to be surrounded by like-minded people for a few hours. At the end of the storm, I helped Jose Andres World Central Kitchen provide meals to an under-served community.
Seeing both the life situation and the community’s gratitude is something I will never forget. It really reinforces the importance of seeing your entire community – not just my bubble – to understand why we need to lobby for more resources and support. No matter where you volunteer, from food banks, gardens to shelters or relief centers, I guarantee your views on helping will change.
Use the power of storytelling
I don’t suggest you need to post on Instagram every donation you make, but you will be surprised at the number of people asking me how they can help when I share it online. Consider the trickle effect of impact and what that might look like on your channels. Is that a monthly post about an organization that interests you and why? Context is important and when people have context, they often tend to feel connected to the cause.
For example, almost everyone who knows me knows I love to eat and eat – it’s part of my job to some extent. Recently I got to know about an organization called Good work Austin People through donations are building a community kitchen to attract restaurant staff back to work. They are addressing Austin’s food insecurity by providing meals to desert food communities and providing access to mental health to hospitable communities – all of which I am incredibly. care. By sharing why I support this organization and providing background / background information on why it is important to our community, I now have people who want to help too. support and support the cause.
The organizations need our help to promote, and whoever you end up supporting, consider the most authentic way for you to help tell that story.
Readers, I want to know what tips and knowledge you have in supporting your community and how you leverage your own resources to make an impact. Drop your thoughts and comments below.