Together, We're Better

How winter storm Uri thrust communities into action.

As Galveston CoCare just completed 6 months as a fully functioning 501c3 nonprofit organization, I felt in my heart to take a moment to reflect back on some of the amazing recent events we've been part of.

From its beginning, Galveston CoCare has focused on bringing everyone together who fights poverty. So, it makes sense every actionable item reflects this cohesion.

After the scare of Laura passed, we gathered our 28 service providing nonprofits to reimagine how we approach disaster response in Galveston County. From the leadership of the Galveston County Food Bank along with St.Vincent's House, Our Daily Bread, the Diaper Bank, and Feed Galveston we have already created a better plan to face an impending storm in Galveston with pre-disaster comfort packs.

In response to COVID-19, we connected the Anita Daniels Designer Foundation to our county. They were able to provide almost 40 pallets of cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other needed items to the Galveston County Food Bank. From there, we made these items available to St. Vincent's House, Resource and Crisis Center, New Life Childcare, Upward Hope Academy, Our Daily Bread and Moody Early Childhood Center. Altogether, this impacted more than 500 families' lives.

Every week as the Council would meet, there would be information and aid naturally being shared between agencies. Each Council member holds the keys to pockets of information or services being provided and it's in that virtual space we would see those walls come down. Outside of this virtual space, the connecting power of Galveston CoCare would continually get put to the test.

Most recently as we faced the winter storm Uri, Galveston CoCare was thrust into the middle of an unforeseen disaster. Every day, we were getting almost 70 phone calls of people needing information and assistance.

One person just needed blankets for their family.

A couple needed a case of water to help them make it through.

One man had no power in his home to charge his oxygen tank, so we gave him a ride to a friends house.

And so many more stories. Galveston CoCare showed up when they were called.

Galveston CoCare not only showed up for the people needing assistance, but also the agencies on the frontlines meeting the needs of our county's most vulnerable.

We connected emergency cots to Galveston Central Church from the Salvation Army by the help of the City of Galveston. This helped prepare Galveston Central Church to receive around 60 unhoused people to stay out of the cold.

We connected over 200 blankets from Sagemont Church to Galveston Central Church. This became a lifeline as the church's power was cut off in the worst temperature drops during this storm.

We connected water and snacks from the Galveston County Food Bank to the city Warming Center, Galveston Central Church and the Salvation Army.

We had staff from the 211 and Texas Division of Emergency Management calling in to get updated information about warming centers and shelters in Galveston County. We were able to handle these calls, because we were in the center of communication between agencies.

We partnered with the Greater Coastal Community Action Council to elevate the needs of the community to the city in order to help keep the Warming Centers open.

Lack of both water and power created another unforeseen problem where many organizations sheltering individuals couldn't flush their toilets. We reached out to the Chamber of Commerce who was able to get portable toilets over to the Resource and Crisis Center, Galveston Central Church and the Salvation Army.

After the storm passed, we worked with the City of Galveston to allocate water to individuals that cannot leave their home. We helped get 2 pallets water over to Meals on Wheels for a big distribution.

We later worked with the city to allocate pallets of water to Our Daily Bread, the Salvation Army, and St.Vincent's House so they could reach both homebound and unhoused individuals.

As things began to quiet down, we were daily checking on our service providing nonprofits to make sure they had what they needed. The way we saw the community move to meet needs was amazing.

Right now as we are getting phone calls, we are directing them to 4B Disaster Response to make sure they are getting the help they need for repairs as well as connecting them to the amazing service providing nonprofits of Galveston County.

We are also setting up the shared case management model between these nonprofits to better prepare for the next disaster.

As I look back on the events of the last 3 weeks, Galveston CoCare did exactly what is was designed to do- connect people in crisis to services and resources. We did this by connecting and sustaining an effective continuum of care that fosters collaboration between agencies and alleviates poverty.

As we always see through times of disaster....

Together, we're better.

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