It’s the first rain-free weekend in April and a group of BakerRipley-led volunteers are canvassing the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood for anyone still needing help recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
“The visuals everyone saw on the news of how high the water got will never be forgotten,” Moishe House Without Walls Program Manager Liza Moskowitz said. “Being here eight months later, when the water is no longer here but the need is so desperate, shows everyone that those affected by Hurricane Harvey cannot be forgotten either and if you can lend a hand – you should.”
Seventeen volunteers from Moishe House, an international Jewish community engagement group which places young adults in group homes across the country and around the world, learned about disaster recovery in the city and walked door-to-door for several hours to assess the needs of affected community members.
“In Hebrew, Tikkun Olam is a Jewish value which translates to ‘repair the world’ and projects like these help us to live out this value tangibly while impacting others,” Moishe House Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager Molly Cram said.
Moishe House partnered with BakerRipley thanks to Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards building the connection as part of the organization’s first service-learning trip called Act Now Houston. The goal is to leave no home behind and try to speak personally with residents who would answer their knocks.
“We’ve found having a face-to-face connection goes a long way. It shows BakerRipley still cares,” BakerRipley Disaster Recovery Volunteer Manager Tommy Holstien said. “Not everyone has access to information and we are doing everything we can to let people know we have private funds available to help repair homes as well as assist with damaged furniture and appliances. Once they have information, the next step is to assess eligibility with a disaster case manager and help them rebuild their lives.”
Volunteer canvassing in neighborhoods is just one of the ways BakerRipley continuously builds partnerships with the city, county, non-profit organizations and corporations to bring valuable resources to the communities it serves. So far, the agency canvassed the Gulfton, Greenspoint, Greater Hobby and Edgebrook neighborhoods to educate these communities about the long-term disaster recovery options available.
“If residents aren’t home or are uncomfortable opening their door, we tag their doorknob with a brochure explaining what BakerRipley offers,” Cram said. “The hope is when they see we’re here to help, they’ll reach out to BakerRipley or tell their neighbors, friends and relatives about the program.”
This grassroots effort has occurred three times since February in BakerRipley-identified neighborhoods.
“We’ve scoured the maps available pinpointing the likelihood of Harvey flooding and then cross-checked those neighborhoods with our internal zip code list of hard-hit areas to identify streets that flooded,” Holstien said. “Even the homes with a few inches of water inside can be just as devastating as those with feet of water. We’re interested in all of these homes.”
So far, BakerRipley has canvassed over 750 homes to engage residents who need either home repairs or some form of financial assistance due to Harvey flood damage. The next volunteer canvassing dates are set for Saturday, May 19 and Saturday, June 16, with plans to continue the efforts through the summer on the third Saturday of each month.
Individuals and corporations are encouraged to sign up for the canvassing dates. If you would like to participate in the BakerRipley grass-root canvassing effort, click here.