I saw a sign the other day that said, “Man. Kind. Be both.” YES. I teared up after reading it and then came back to the realization that we are living in a broken world. It's almost impossible to turn on the news or open up Facebook and not see yet another tragic incident that instills fear in us. Where has the love for humanity gone? When did people quit loving people? There's a simple answer here. They didn't.
Our judgement gets clouded and consumed with perceptions and politics but at the end of the day, I do believe that the heart of most of mankind wants to just love people. There is no such thing as a perfect world or even a perfect person but when it comes down to it, human decency is not dead. This has been so evident during this past week.
I live in Texas, about 2.5 hours from Houston. Watching the news has been tearing my heart to pieces. I was in Houston two weeks ago where I worked with 350 Headstart teachers. I was in Louisiana the week before that working with even more teachers. For those two weeks, I provided professional development for so many teachers, encouraging them for the school year they were about to begin, oblivious to what was to come. Today I just sit and pray that these teachers are all safe and still have homes to go to. It's kind of surreal to think that the place I was last week is now under water. I have friends in the area that left because they have a baby and were worried that they would lose power. Now their community is being evacuated. All of this sadness is overwhelming.
I personally live my life with the motto, “Love God and Love People.” Everything within me wants to save everyone. How can I help? I can't just sit here and do nothing. Grief is consuming. All I know how to do is pray. I've been cleaning my house just in case we need to take in evacuees. Really, I need to feel useful. My husband tried to go to Houston yesterday but so many of the communities surrounding it are flooded that you cannot get in. He went as far as he could and just brought food and water to those working the rescues. We have a group of friends that went down last night with boats. They evacuated a nursing home. Can you imagine?
My faith in mankind has never dwindled to nothing but honestly, it was suffering. My television grabbed me and shook me. Watching the rescue efforts shows the true heart of people. PEOPLE LOVE PEOPLE. There will always be jerks in the world but most people really do care about the welfare of others. We know how to be man and kind.
Tragedy has this way of shaking us. Just like when a loved one dies, we appreciate people in our lives more. We love harder and make less excuses. Our time is more valuable. Tragedy like what we are experiencing right now is awful to its core but I hope that people watching see that it doesn't matter what color or what gender a person is, we are all capable of loving and taking care of one another. It should not be tit for tat or an eye for an eye. It should be love and be loved. Yes, it can be that simple. Turn on your television and watch the people being rescued. They are not there for reward, recognition or to settle a score. They simply there to be man and kind.
If you are like me, I am sure you are wondering what can you do to help. I think at first, we naturally want to buy everything and give everything. This is not an opportunity for you to clean out your storage (said with love). People don't need ten year old teddy bears and jeans with holes in them (though I do think that may be cool now and people buy them like that, ha). Yes, people are in need but we need to remember that we want to be a blessing in a tragedy and not a burden. Often, relief efforts cannot use many things donated to them.
I would encourage you to do your research. When dropping off bags of clothes, pre-sort them and label them. Many volunteer hours are spent sorting through stuff so help them out. We also don't know how long it will take people to get back into their homes or if that is even possible. Gift cards are a great idea because people can get what they need. Keep an eye out for future posts on where to send those. The Red Cross needs people to donate blood too.
If you are a teacher, consider going to the store and buying extra crayons, paper, etc now while they are still on sale. We can help you find a teacher to send them to. Think about what you would want someone to send you if you lost your classroom. There are also organizations like Donor's Choose that are already working on projects for Texas teachers. We are working on organizing some sort of classroom drive once we are past the worst of this. Making cards with your class is a sweet gesture but remember that there may not be a place to send them to. Be patient and let the land dry out a little. Right now things like that are super sweet but not a priority. Getting people out safely and then assessing the damage is most important.
Also know that Houston is a huge hub for Texas and beyond. Yesterday, most of Waco and our surrounding areas were out of gas. We get a lot of our gas and other delivery based items from Houston. This also means with limited supplies that prices will go up. Things will get worse for everyone in Texas before it gets better because Houston is a hub for so many things. There is no easy fix here.
Natural disasters leave their mark in history. You will read about statistics. The number of inches of rain, the total cost of damages, the amount of people displaced, all are relevant things. What we will remember though, in ten years from now, is how people reacted. The fact that people choose to be man and kind, restoring our faith in mankind. Those first responders and the average Joe with a fishing boat, the teacher that is buying school supplies for the teacher that lost everything and the mom that is sending diapers because she couldn't imagine going through this, those are the things we need to hold on to. Everyone can do something. Everyone can choose to be man and kind.
Here are a few articles with advice on how you can help. Stay tuned for details to help teachers in need.