HOUSTON (CNS) — When Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, John Hinojosa, president of the Galveston-Houston chapter of the Knights of Columbus, saw the Knights come alive in the recovery efforts after the storm.
“It was a beautiful collaboration,” he said. “We helped, and will continue to help, those in need.”
If a council wasn’t directly assisting those in need nearby, their own Knights stranded by the floods.
Still, with the support of the national Knights of Columbus organization, the Texas and Galveston-Houston Knights donated at least $900,000 to support Harvey relief efforts. Several councils were honored for their service.
“There’s a lot of people, a lot of lower-income people that still haven’t resolved their situation on their homes or maybe building supplies,” Hinojosa said. “We’re still continuing to help those families out there. And there are a lot of those and they’re not making the news a lot. But they’re out there and we’re still dedicating our efforts for those families that need us. It may be a widow or something that doesn’t have a loud voice, doesn’t have access to Internet or social media.”
The Knights worked with the Houston Food Bank, as well as the archdiocese’s network of social service agencies such as Catholic Charities, San Jose Clinic and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. That effort was enabled by a powerhouse of 10 distribution sites across the archdiocese. Catholic Charities of the archdiocese, served 19,658 individuals and 6,158 households in 246 zip codes throughout the archdiocese, according organization statistics.
“Over a year later and beyond, Catholic Charities continues to help individuals and families affected by the storm,” said its president and CEO, Cynthia N. Colbert. “We will continue to be here providing help and creating hope for as long as it takes to help families recovery, and we are grateful for the support and prayers from our community, volunteers, the archdiocese and people from all over the country that make our work possible.”
To date, Catholic Charities has assisted 7,759 children and 2,840 seniors. This help includes emergency assistance — basic needs such as food, water, clothing, diapers and baby items, gas cards, utility assistance, housing or rent assistance and more — and long-term recovery services such as case management, counseling, financial assistance for rebuilding and repairs, direct assistance with applications for supplemental funding, referrals, and more.
In the first few months after the hurricane, 2,055 volunteers served 7,001 hours specific to Harvey relief. This included receiving and sorting donations at disaster relief centers and warehouses, assisting with client intake and completing paperwork, taking and returning phone calls, and helping staff members with other duties as needed.
San Jose Clinic, which opened its doors to serve patients at no cost for one month, delivered nearly 2,500 patient visits and filled more than 4,000 prescriptions. They also offered clinic services in two counties.
At St. John Vianney Church in west Houston, parish ministries were offering home blessings led by lay ministers and clergy for those whose homes were damage and rebuilt. The parish’s disaster relief ministry was working with the HOPE Network, as well as several ministries and groups within the parish, to assisting parishioners and neighbors with long-term recovery.
The Galveston-Houston Knights of Peter Claver, through its national disaster relief assistance fund, provided about $30,000 in recovery funds to those affected by Harvey. In coordination with the Texas councils and Ladies Auxiliary courts, additional financial support, supplies and services to affected parishes and churches in the archdiocese and beyond. At least 17 councils and courts of the Knights of Peter Claver continued to work to collect monetary donations, and many worked to assist those affected via food pantries and distribution, shelters and other emergency facilities. They helped file FEMA applications, provide basic medical care, joined by their Junior Knights and Junior Daughters.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, via a network of conferences at parishes across the archdiocese, provided financial assistance and clothing vouchers. At least four parishes acted as recovery assistance centers in Katy, Houston, Friendswood and Missouri City.
The society’s Hurricane Harvey Homes program offered those affected with major furniture needed to help make a home. To date, the society has served more than 1,600 individuals in 470 households, with another 200 individuals in 70 households enrolled to benefit from the program. An additional 100 households may be accepted in the future. Hinojosa saw these efforts swell to benefit all those in need, regardless of race, creed or location.
Hinojosa was inspired by these relief efforts that still continue today.
“It was truly a community effort among everybody,” he told the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “There were no lines, there were no boundaries. It was everyone helping everyone. And that was just a beautiful paradigm. … Some time it is events — unfortunately, unfortunate events or disasters — that bring everybody together.”
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