by TJ AndersonLennon Stella's home, photo via People.comI was already impressed by Lennon Stella, who, by starring in TV drama Nashville, managed to build a double-threat career as an actress and
How Nashville Can Help Texas Recover From Hurricane Harvey
by TJ Anderson
Across the country and the world, eyes are on south Texas right now, as Hurricane Harvey’s damage continues. In Houston and the surrounding region, the rain is expected to keep coming, compounding the losses, displacing more people, destroying more homes. It’s heartbreaking, and painfully familiar.
In Nashville, we’re viewing this catastrophe from an unfortunate and rare vantage point: We’ve watched our own streets, homes and businesses get swallowed by floodwaters, and we too had to fight our way back. Understanding what Texans are going through, and knowing how deep and far-reaching their needs are now and will be for months and years to come, I know Nashville’s going to step up here.
We’re going to do what we always do, and volunteer.
How to help south Texas
In the aftermath of the Nashville flood, we needed so much. Food and water, shelter, clothing, hands to help clear the wreckage from our homes and businesses. Texas needs the same now — and from afar, it can be overwhelming to know where to start pitching in.
If you’re among the many Nashvillians looking for a way to do some good, my advice is two fold: First, look to the organizations that made a strong impact here when we were struggling; and second, focus on the areas of need that you’re passionate about, whether that’s helping children, or animals, or the hungry.
Some specific options:
During the Nashville flood, The Community Foundation was a beacon — they collected $14 million and, through its disaster response funds, move it to more than a hundred organizations that impacted and aided our neighbors. With that experience behind them, naturally the organization was moved to pitch in on Harvey recovery efforts. If you donate to Harvey relief through The Community Foundation, they’ve announced that 100 percent will go directly toward recovery efforts in south Texas.
I’m really passionate about animal rescue, and right now in and near Houston, hundreds if not thousands of animals are being displaced too, from family pets to shelter animals. Local animal welfare organizations are doing what they can to help stranded pets, and in my own efforts, I want to support their work with donations. A few that need our help: SPCA of Texas and Austin Pets Alive, both pitching in on the ground where it’s needed.
We’re at a time where families are struggling with basic needs, and they’re turning to Texas organizations that are prepped to meet those needs. One that’s helping keep displaced south Texans from going hungry: Feeding Texas, a nonprofit that fights hunger in the Lone Star state every day, feeding millions through its network of food banks. They’ll need our help now too.
Organizations that help children always have my heart, and right now in south Texas, the needs are broad and immediate, from simple things like diapers to complex medical care. Among the ways we can help families who are struggling: the Texas Diaper Bank is working to provide those essentials to affected parents, and Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi (one of the hardest-hit areas) has been open and caring for young patients through the storm and its aftermath. Both could use our help now and as the area recovers.
We know all too well that as the immediate needs are met and floodwaters begin to subside, south Texans are really going to need literal helping hands — and lots of them. One organization working on providing that is All Hands Volunteers, a highly rated nonprofit that activates all around the world to help areas affected by natural disasters. They’re on the ground in Texas, in a staging position in San Antonio, ready to pitch in. You can pitch in toward their efforts by donating.
I really want to applaud the short-term rental owners in cities like San Antonio and Austin who’ve been opening their Airbnb rentals up, fee-free, for people affected by Harvey. We’re far enough away in Nashville that they don’t seem to be looking for similar efforts from us, but I do want to help spread the word about the option. Something else I’m keeping in mind: I’ve marked down some of those rental spaces, so that next time I’m in Texas, I make a point of supporting the Airbnbers who supported their neighbors in a time of great need.
Finding charities you can trust
A final suggestion: it’s sadly too common during catastrophes like this for predatory people to take advantage of kind-hearted supporters who want to help. Before you donate and money, it’s worth checking with something like Charitynavigator.org, which researches and grades charity organizations.
With some quick research, you can feel more confident that your efforts are going to organizations that can and will really help south Texans in need.
Hope these thoughts were helpful, Nashville. Let’s go forth and give.
TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....
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