No one wants a shelter to be a permanent home. No matter how hard we work to welcome people, to treat them with dignity, a shelter is not a home. So, the most important work in a shelter – beyond the most basic elements – is to listen when people tell you what they need to move on. Many NRG shelter guests needed sleep, food, and a phone to call their friends. They needed a ride. They stayed a night, collected themselves and checked out. Others had a few more obstacles. Needed help with a prescription, needed to wait until a family member could get out of their flooded area to come and get them. Some were taken in by neighbors whose homes were less flooded. Over 1,300 have come and gone. This doesn’t mean that everything is okay – it means there’re working with their own resources to try to restart their lives. We all want to be with our families and our neighbors when times are tough. We have about 2,089 guests today. And many service partners who are set up and ready to help.
Many of you have wanted to focus on the shelters and I understand that. You imagine being in that circumstance and your heart tells you – this is so painful and I want to make it better. For some, it’s a good place to point a camera. You folks with cameras kinda make me mad but I also know the story has to be told.
But the real story and the real challenges lie ahead. It’s not about headlines and bylines. And it’s not even all about Houston.
Hundreds of thousands of people along the Gulf Coast are going to need help. They won’t be able to clean out their homes by themselves. Their jobs will be gone with the businesses that cannot recover. The apartment they rented is in a complex that won’t get rebuilt. It’s going to be a tough go. Small simple tasks will be very very difficult.
Bloom where you’re planted. Do what you can with what you have to help. You likely live within blocks of someone who could use an extra pair of hands today
Please budget your eager compassion over the next year – because we will still be in the acute phase of this disaster and we will need you. Badly.