I’m going to keep this brief, if possible with my unique gift of wordiness, and share a little story that taught me a big lesson.
When we heard Harvey would be hitting Austin we were in New York. We planned to spend the weekend in NY but were fearful the weather would leave us stranded in NY! It was a mad dash as we booked the first flight back Friday evening. When the weekend passed and rains and strong winds were the only strong signs of this “terrible disaster”, we felt maybe our rush to get back was a little overly dramatic. It would seem that Austin was mostly spared true damage from Hurricane Harvey (HH). Until we saw the news and realized no…this disaster was not over exaggerated. It was in fact underestimated. Houston and its surrounding cities were under water.
The emotions went like this: panic, relief, humor, horror, guilt. Panicked we would be affected. Relieved we were not. Humorous over our “exaggerations”. Horror as we saw the untold damage unfold. Guilt for finding relief and humor in the initial stages. Then came a new emotion: resolve.
The stories of the thousands and thousands of people affected by Hurricane Harvey weighed so heavily on my heart. Horrific natural disasters have a way of doing that. And here I was, as close to ground zero as I could hope to be. Close enough to make a difference. But how to help? Initially, we gave monetarily. I think in all natural disasters if you can give, cash is king. But as HH refugees came into Austin I wanted to give more. I wanted to do more.
I raided our home for extra’s of like new or new goods. I had heard that while some areas still wanted clothing, most were requesting donations be refocused on other goods. So I grabbed extra paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, band-aids, unopened medicines, etc — thank the lucky stars my Costco membership and Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save habits were paying off! I had extras of most things to give.
I then showed up at the local drop-off site a member of our community had put together — a U-Haul that he himself took the initiative to rent and coordinate to get down to Houston. When I showed up to this site I was overwhelmed by the generosity of other donors and underwhelmed by what I had brought with me. I was there with just the baby (and a baby carrier) as a friend had generously taken Colton for a play date. I had time. I asked if I could help and jumped into it.
For 3 hours I was taken aback by how people truly turned up for the evacuees of Houston. People kept stopping by, asking for specific needs, and then coming back with piles and bags of brand new items (to the lady who bought every size in the Target Merona basic t’s–you are a hero!). So many turned up with new bra’s, underwear, socks–things that I think sometimes get forgotten on that oh so important essentials list.
That day when I left that full donation truck, I felt good about what I had accomplished. But I wanted to do more. How else could we give? Initially, I wanted to go around and collect all sorts of goods and donations from people But then I read that Federal Aid Relief in disasters does NOT cover diapers or wipes (nor does WIC for that matter which, considering their cost and essentialness, is crazy. We’ll cover that at another time). This fact accompanied by stories of babies stuck in their same diapers for days. Soggy, wet, falling apart dirty diapers on their sensitive bottom sides. My heart was shredded. I looked at my two boys and thought–what if these were my people? What would I hope to see in others if I was in the position of the people I’m reading about (from the comfort of my dry, flood-free home).
So I thought–why not try to run my own diaper drive? I’ll collect from friends and community.
But then, before I could get going, another emotion took over. Fear. Fear to fail. Because y’all– I drive a Kia Optima Hybrid. While great on gas mileage, this car is not known for its trunk space. So I feared taking the initiative. I feared to ask for donations because–what if I could not succeed in getting them all in my car? Surely these boxes would not all fit and the back seat already has car seats in the way. I can’t leave my kids while I drop off the donations (I really want to volunteer at the diaper bank and have Colton help there too–as you can tell from this video he’s so passionate about helping and I want to nurture this quality!). If only I had an SUV, then I would be able to do this! Then I would be successful. With my current vehicle, I’m not going to be able to succeed.
Then I asked myself, “Self, if you feel so strongly about this cause, HOW could you possibly consider the option of failure? Furthermore, self, what exactly IS failure?“
I had created this self-limiting belief that if I didn’t drop off this massive load of diapers in one trip, that I was then somehow incapable of achieving my goal: helping those in need!!! When I type it out now I think, “Wow. Doesn’t that sound stupid.” But hey, these kinds of self-limiting beliefs happen every day. And that’s why I’m sharing this story.
I had this misconstrued notion of what success is! This narrow belief and mindset that caused an irrational fear that almost stopped me from doing something so incredibly important to me. So I’ve redefined my success and I’ve redefined my failure.
My success is now: achieving my goals, no matter what, no matter how it’s done. Get it done.
My failure is now: not taking any actions, any steps towards my goal. Failure is not trying.
So I took the leap.
I told my community members. Bring me your diapers! Or give me your address and I will come get them. LET ME HELP YOU IN HELPING OTHERS!
It’s been 2 days. Diapers are still rolling in! I now acknowledge that I have the best kind of problem–I really won’t have space in my car. The sheer amount of people who turned up to help out those in need ( in my own small drive, to every other community driven HH relief effort) blows me away. I may have to take two trips, maybe even three or fingers crossed, four, to get these diapers to the diaper bank. Maybe I’ll divvy up some of the donations for other groups asking for diapers and wipes. It doesn’t really matter what organization takes them. At the end of the day, what matters is the success of getting these goods into the hands of those who need it. Our Hurricane Harvey survivors.
The point of all this is, if you want to do something for the HH survivors (or really this advice holds true for anything in life), live the Nike life and just do it. Find a way. Make it important, and do it. I know donating some diapers can seem like a small thing, especially when we look at the remarkable men and women showing up on scene in Houston and actually risking their lives to save those still stuck (we thank you from every fiber of our beings!) But can you imagine the impact we could have on the world if 1,000 people thought to give back in a little way and said, “what I do matters”? Suddenly giving diapers wouldn’t be a little thing. It would be a huge, monumental, and most definitely life changing thing.
Food for thought, xx.
If you feel motivated to help Harvey refugees consider the following options:
-Local to Austin? Volunteer at the diaper bank! They even encourage kids to come with their parents. Sign up here. You can also donate on their site directly via that same sign-up link. Just navigate through the site to the Donate page.
-Volunteer with the Red Cross (or Habitat for Humanity). No matter where you live, the Red Cross if looking for volunteers to field phone calls. Even if your efforts are not Harvey related at your volunteer center, this allows this massive organization to send those able to ground zero.
-Run your own diaper drive. So many were displaced during HH. You may very well have Harvey survivors in your own area looking for help! Donate near you.
-Send me stuff! I’ve had quite a few people reach out asking if they can send my physical donations to my home. Even people who are friends of friends of friends and saw my name on Facebook. And the answer is– OF COURSE. A huge resounding yes. Send anything you want and I will be happy to donate. Just be sure you’re ready for the mail costs. Email me at: email@example.com or add/message me on Facebook and let’s get started!
-Sell your goods locally and donate the funds of those sales to: Austin Diaper Bank, Texas Diaper Bank, San Antonio Food Bank, Austin Food Bank, Houston Food Bank, Corpus Christi Food Bank, Central Texas Food Bank, or Rockport-Fulton Good Samaritans Home. Remember that while Houston was hit, survivors have relocated all over Texas. Austin and San Antonio (and Dallas) have taken to setting up shelters all throughout the city. Additionally, Houston was the major city hit but Ingleside, Rockport, Port A, Corpus Christi, and more small cities on the Gulf were hit just as hard and would love the support!
-Create your own monetary drive. Have a skillset that could make you money? Consider donating your time and offering your skillset up in exchange for donations!
-Collect financial donations from co-workers and family. When asked directly, many people are more willing to give! Or if you are able, incentivize (the largest donation get’s a prize, who can raise the most money get’s a prize, match donations). My grandfather, for example, offered to match each member of our family up to $250 for proof of our own monetary donations.
-Need a new t-shirt? Make it one that counts. Tons of charities have created or are donating proceeds to the cause. Now you’ve helped in two ways: you’ve donated and you’re creating awareness. Oh and you’ve got a cool new shirt
Here’s a list of shirts/goods giving proceeds directly to HH disaster relief. The pictures each link to the item so you can purchase if you’d like. (Oh p.s. if you have any you’d like to add a shop/item to this list, just leave the link in the comments and I’ll update the post to include it!):
- Men and Women Texas Strong Shirts (local Austin seller)multiple colors, styles, apparel, and goods
- Mamacase Texas Flood Relief Tee (local Austin seller)
- ZellaWoods is selling Texas Stap pendants and bar necklace options “Texas Forever” or “Texas Strong” is donating a percentage of proceeds through the beginning of September.
- Bobby Bones Show has “Texas Forever” and currently Pimpin Joy shirts all proceeds going to HH Relief:
- Chip and Jo 100% of Proceeds “Texas Forever” Favorite Shirt
- Rowdy Rose Boutique
- Sweet Southern Love Many Styles Men and Women
- Veteran Owned “Bigger than the Storm Shirt” Limited Run
- World’s Okayest Mom Teal and Grey Options Unisex Tee
- Live Love Slouchy V-Neck Grey Texas Tee (this is the one I ordered as it’s nursing friendly!):
- Texas Strong Grey Graphic Soft Tee
- MadebyMary “For Texas” Necklace (currently sold out at time of posting but will come back in stock!. Mary is from Houston and I have bought many pieces from her)
- “Let Us Have Hope in the Midst of the Storm” Tee (3 Colors Avail) by Turquoise Door:
Be creative because ANYTHING COUNTS. I doesn’t matter if you only collect and donate a dollar! That dollar is a success because you tried. I don’t care if you are tight on cash so you don’t personally donate a single dollar–but maybe you instead managed to give “time” back or organize a way for others to give or just spread awareness in some way that makes a difference!
Please don’t let the fear of some so-called “failure” stop you. You define your life, who you are, and what you do. Make it something worthwhile.
#PrayforTexas #HurricaneHarveyDisasterRelief #texasstrong