Last week it was my honor and privilege to accompany Vice President of Member Benefits Kim Krueger and Community Service Coordinator Laura Adams as they delivered $20,000 in donations to 10 volunteer fire departments and food banks that have been serving communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
The money came from the Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund established in the aftermath of the storm. Donations were received from Hermann Sons Life lodges and members from across Texas.
Our first stop was in Refugio where we presented checks to the Refugio and Woodsboro volunteer fire departments and the Coastal Bend Food Bank and the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent. A crew from KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi met us there so we were able to share our story with their viewers and website readers.
Also that day we made stops in Bayside, Lamar, Tivoli and Seadrift where we presented much-needed funds to the volunteer fire departments.
The next day we went to Austin where we presented a donation to the Central Texas Food Bank and then it was on to Houston for the presentation of a check to the Houston Food Bank.
We also received some good publicity about our efforts in Corpus Christi and in San Antonio. Sue Calberg from KENS 5 in San Antonio posted about the donations on Facebook. Steve Spriester from KSAT-12 News aired our interview Friday evening and also Saturday morning. We need to thank Director Suzanne Hildebrand and volunteer Alexandra Eads for helping us make this coverage possible.
Kim said, “It was so gratifying to be able to deliver these donations to these organizations that have been serving the citizens of Texas since the storm. I was proud to represent our members who made these donations possible.”
But this was just part of the story.
Back in August, immediately after the storm, the Home Office was on the scene in Rockport, one of the hardest hit towns. The Home Office bought eight generators and eight chain saws and various other supplies including extension cords, gas and oil for the chainsaws, bug spray, sunscreen, wipes and bottled water. Those were delivered to the City of Rockport.
And individual lodges made donations to other organizations and individual members affected by the storm.
“The $20,000 in donations we delivered these two days does not tell the whole story,” Kim said. “When you include the chainsaws and generators we donated in the beginning and all of the donations our lodges have made to other organizations, the impact Hermann Sons Life and its members have made is much bigger. And we are proud to do it.”
Listening to the stories of the devastation and the recovery really touched me during those two days. It was evident at one volunteer fire station the volunteer we spoke to was actually living there. Later we asked him how his home had withstood the hurricane. He shook his head sadly and said it was gone. But he quickly added that this was not about him and he did not want to complain. This was the resounding story all that day – people more concerned about rebuilding their community than sharing their own loss.
As we arrived for the Tivoli Volunteer Fire Department presentation, we searched for the convenience store Fire Chief Arnulfo Perez said he would meet us at. It soon became clear why. Just around the corner was the fire station – in ruins. At least half of the building was gone and the rest was a twisted mess.
It was clear to me then that as all the media coverage dies down and we move on with our own lives – the impact of Hurricane Harvey on these coastal towns and residents is very far from over. There is still so much work to be done. I’m so proud Hermann Sons Life realized that after its first donations there was more help needed and chose these organizations that are focused on helping others.