As you know, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for everyone in Houston and surrounding communities. But it's children who are always the most vulnerable in situations like this. That’s why it was critical to get back up and running. Our team worked so hard to stand up Club operations quickly as possible to serve the communities most in need. Five of our locations opened on September 1 (just days after the storm), while all but one of our other locations opened on September 5.
We knew that at a time when people are trying to rebuild their lives, it was important to give children and families a safe and secure place to go, so we provided full day operations to allow families to get back to work or start their own recovery process while schools remained closed. We’ve also been working at the shelters with pop-up Clubs serving about 100 kids per day. That’s the role we play in our community every day, and it’s amplified during critical times of need like we are experiencing now.
At the same time, our staff were impacted by the storm. About 20 people – approximately 15 percent of our total staff – have been able to make it here and help with the kids. It’s a tough time and everyone is dealing with getting their own lives in order… we are working to get our Club team back on their feet as quickly as possible, and our staff is truly selfless. They’ve been working overtime doing whatever needs to be done. Even though they had their own personal devastation to deal with, they were here - cleaning, removing debris, serving meals. Just a selfless group of people who’ve put aside their own losses to give the kids of Houston some respite from the chaos of the past two weeks. I am so grateful for every one of them. They’ve truly risen to the occasion to meet the needs of the kids.
It has meant the world to our team to have support from around the Movement. Clubs across the country have been sending financial donations and supplies. A busload of smiling faces from our friends at Boys & Girls Clubs of America helped lift our spirits and helped recovery efforts, while Kathy Holland, Director of Operations at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha drove 17 hours from Wisconsin to bring supplies, hugs and donations. It’s incredibly rewarding to see these signs of hope in what is definitely a widespread, catastrophic event.
We’re grateful for what Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Clubs from across our Movement are doing for us. The immediate relief is starting to dissipate and leave. But we’re here, doing exactly what our mission is intended to do. And we are going to be here for the long term, serving all the kids who need us today and every day.