Most of you know from social media or the mockingbird blog that my family survived, grateful, dry, and safe, through Hurricane Harvey in Houston last week. Many people were not so fortunate, and we’ve been trying to help in any way we can. For me, of course, that meant taking to the kitchen, even before we were able to safely leave our house. I made a giant batch of chicken noodle soup, which is my very favorite comfort food. I made lentil vegetable soup, which seemed like good hippie energy food after people had been living on shelf-stable pre-packaged food for a while. I gathered up the little bit of fresh fruit we had in the house after being away from a grocery store for several days, and I tucked it in with soup and homemade bread and oatmeal cookies. I made browned butter Rice Krispie treats for a church playground playdate. I made a big batch of chili and a bigger batch of ribollita, knowing that we’ll need soup in the freezer for the weeks and months to come. I found the ingredients for peanut butter granola and made approximately a metric ton of it. I ran out of containers to give it away, and started using Danish butter cookie tins and Mason jars and anything that would hold it. It might be the perfect post-storm recovery food: fiber, protein, no refined sugars or flour, delicious, shelf stable, and can be eaten with one hand while working with another. Also: it makes the house smell amazing while it bakes.
The people of Houston, and Palmer (our church) in particular, have been nothing short of amazing. People have stepped up to the plate in remarkable ways. Some of that is described in my husband, Neil’s, sermon this morning when we gathered for worship for the first time since the storm.
People everywhere want to help Houston get back on her feet. We are so incredibly touched by friends’ generosity and giving spirit. Right now, Houston needs monetary donations more than in-kind donations, as described here and here.
Where to donate? I can help with that!
The church building itself was fortunately undamaged, but many of our people’s homes were severely damaged. If you’d like to help families at Palmer or associated with Palmer who were directly affected by floods, you can donate online here, or checks can be sent to Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, 6221 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77030, with “storm relief” written in the memo line. Gift cards can be sent to the same address, and Palmer will make sure they get into the right hands. Local stores are HEB, Costco, Wal Mart, Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Randall’s, Trader Joe’s, Lowe’s, and Home Depot.
Many parents will return to work this week, but many schools (including the Houston public schools, which serve a large number of students) will not start classes again until at least September 11. Palmer is running a day camp for those children, so that parents can return to work, work on their damaged homes, or volunteer to help others in their homes. This day camp is being offered free of charge, and will include a meal and snacks for the children. Some families who will be using this camp are families of police officers, medical staff, and other security personnel who have been working to keep Houstonians safe and well since before the storm began. The camp is being run by volunteers and Palmer staff on Palmer’s campus with a lot of donated goods, and so the overhead is virtually nothing. But they are accepting monetary donations for food and supplies. Donations can be given here, or checks can be sent to Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, 6221 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77030, with “hurricane day camp” written in the memo line. Any extra funds will be used for the general storm relief, outlined above.
Other Episcopal churches in the area have taken on devastating damage. To donate to their restoration, check here and here for details.
For general relief through larger Episcopal organizations, you can donate through the Episcopal Diocese of Texas for flood relief or Episcopal Relief and Development.
Fellow foodies following this blog may be interested in donating to the Houston Food Bank, or buying a gift card for flooding victims through Penzey’s.
Animal lovers may choose to donate to the city’s animal shelter here.
I’ve seen devastating photos of flooded libraries. You can donate to the Houston Public Library here to assist libraries in rebuilding their collections, and to support the other work that public libraries do in the community, particularly with storm recovery services. Here is another link to donate to a local library. While schools have special laws governing how they can accept donations, our children’s school’s Parent Teacher Organization has set up a fund especially to help faculty and staff who have been affected by the storm. You can donate here.
The Montrose Center supports the LGBTQ community in Houston, and they have been doing remarkable work following the hurricane, as described on their website. You can donate here.
For those who are interested in supporting the recovery community in Houston, Archway Academy is a high school for teens in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. It meets on Palmer’s campus, and is the largest high school of its kind in the country. To support the families of current and former students affected by flooding, donate here.
This list doesn’t even begin to describe the remarkable work done here on the ground in Houston, or the enormous needs being filled by these organizations. Thank you to everyone who has already donated, and please don’t hesitate to reach out for more suggestions if you have something specific in mind.
Thank you, mostly, for keeping us in your prayers this past week. It has been an overwhelming week in Houston, to say the least, but there’s nowhere we’d rather be. The work is just beginning, and so we appreciate your continued prayers and support!