Helping Hands to Houston

Listen up, Ambassadors!
Houston needs us. After getting hit by hurricane Harvey, Houston is facing record-breaking amounts of flooding, taking in over 50 inches of water. FEMA Administrator Brock Long estimated Monday that 30,000 people may need shelter, and some 450,000 may qualify for federal flood victim assistance (NPR). If you’re looking for a way to contribute to the relief effort in Houston, our friends sent us a crowd-sourced map of local shelters and specific needs.
Houston Shelter Map
If you happen to be there, this map will tell you the shelters with the highest need for volunteers. If you’re not based near Houston, the map can also tell you what items are needed most. Call the shelters to see if it is possible to send supplies directly.
Our other option in terms of helping out is simple – CASH! When you send cash, the charity/shelter of your choice is able to use that revenue to determine needs on the spot, while they are able to assess individual needs based on who is in front of them at any given time. They can use your dollars to get the supplies people need in an organized and efficient way. There is also work that will need to be done in the coming months, and even years, so your dollars can go a long way.
Flooding in Houston.
Photo: Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images

But, as always, we must be diligent in making sure we are getting relief to the right organizations. Charity Navigator is a great starting point to pop in the name of an organization and take a glance through their credentials, such as transparency, a four star rating system, and specific types of programs each organization has in place. They have a special section dedicated to relief efforts for post Hurricane Harvey, so that we can get supplies and/or financial assistance to the right places.

Here’s some helpful links with lists of organizations, both local and national, online and on the ground:
  • NPR – their list is broken down into the following categories: General Relief, Blood Donations, Shelters, Food, Relief for those with Disabilities, Kids, and Animals.
Houston Shelter
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
  • New York Times – the times gives you local, national, and online options for giving to the victims of Harvey. They also have a section about how to avoid possible scams (because, unfortunately, we need to be aware of those who would take advantage of a situation like this).
Getting Help in Houston.
Photo: Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times
  • Charity Navigator – not only do they provide a list of organizations (with ratings), they also have an email address listed for any charities that would like to be included in their Hurricane Harvey relief list.
  • Houston Public Media – they are a service of the University of Houston, and they have an ongoing list of charities, as well as more links to organization watchdogs (like Charity Navigator) to help you decide where to donate.

If any Ambassadors out there have any other additions to this list, reach out via any of our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) and we will add them! And as a closing note, ABC13 out of Houston has a line up of good news stories, featuring Houstonians coming together to help each other. Remember the words of Mr. Rogers:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

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