This past month TOV partnered with NECHAMA- Jewish Response to Disaster as a way to allow members of the community to lend a hand in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.We took 16 volunteers to Houston, Texas to work on rebuilding four different homes in three days. We asked two of our volunteers, Caryn and Pennie Fields, to describe their experience.
We each curled up on our couches 25 miles apart and watched
the devastation in Houston unfold. We were safe in our homes, surrounded by our
treasured belongings and memories from a lifetime lived. We felt powerless,
each wondering what we could do to help.
A notice went out from JUF about a relief mission. Caryn
called asking if I would go with her (not mentioning she had already signed us
up!). When we decided to go, we both instantly felt better. There was something
concrete that we could do.
Arriving in Houston everything appeared like normal.
However, upon closer examination we could begin to see the destruction.
Peoples’ possessions, their history, were piled up outside their homes on the
streets. The fabric of their lives, now debris covering their yards.
As we began our work it became clear that not only were
houses destroyed, but lives. Cars flooded, no transportation to work. Day
care centers closed, no places for children to go during the day. Wages lost
sure to lack of daycare, or businesses being destroyed.
It was challenging work, both physically and emotionally,
but nothing compared to what Houston residents had endured. The people we
helped were so grateful, full of hope and resilience. Each member of our
group worked with determination and compassion, as we did our small part in the
Back in our cozy homes, surrounded by things we hold dear,
we can only hope that we made a difference in the lives of those we
helped. We tore down all that was damaged, hoping Houston residents can
start to rebuild their lives.
We are extremely grateful to all 16 volunteers that accompanied us on this trip! To find out more about our trip, view photos, and view videos, check out our Facebook page!