I was so proud when my son Pierce was named CEO of Big Brothers & Sisters Lone Star in 2015. As the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in the world, it covers Houston, North Texas and West Central Texas.
Two weeks ago, as the news focused on the impending hurricane, Harvey, my thoughts were with Pierce and the children he helps every day. Then, on Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. By Sunday evening there was catastrophic flooding in Houston and the surrounding areas.
As the disaster continued to unfold, and life-saving measures were taken― from opening shelters to rescuing people from rooftops ― I could only imagine the fear and heartbreak being experienced by the children who are part of Big Brother Big Sisters.
I raised my own children in Houston, and was devastated when I saw that Voss Road, the street I used every day when I drove my children home from school, was underwater.
Pierce may or may not remember those trips with the same fondness I do, but while I’m heartbroken at the photos, I couldn’t be prouder of my son now as he responds to the overwhelming problems that face all of Houston as they emerge, literally, from the floodwaters.
This is the note he sent:
Because of my involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters, I have often told friends that the divisive news cycle we see on the television screen is not the reality I get to see every day. For every day when I arrive at work, I get to see a world in which people sacrificially give their time, energy, love and resources to young people whom they would likely not meet otherwise, all in an effort to make their lives better. They simply understand that when a kid is suffering in our community, we are all suffering no matter if that kid is related by blood or not.
In the face of tremendous tragedy, we have seen tremendous care. I am deeply moved by the stories of people helping their fellow neighbors during this tragic storm and love the city of Houston which I am honored to call my home. It is a city that embraces the incredible diversity of its people and takes pride in being the most diverse city in the USA. It is a city that is open and friendly to all who want to make a better life for themselves. It is a city that looks today what America will look like tomorrow. Because of how Houston has acted during this storm, it is safe to say that America will always be the greatest, most welcoming place on earth, because its people are good.
Thank you, Houston, for being so awesome! We will rebuild our great city for all of our neighbors.
Clearly, even with the courage, strength and optimism of people like my son, it will take years to rebuild Houston. But Houstonians are big hearted, and always help each other.
Texas Governor, Greg Abbot, said, “We need to recognize it will be a new normal, a new and different normal for this entire region.”
Right now the focus is on emergency relief. But, as the waters recede and the people in this place I love come together to create their “new normal,” it uplifts me tremendously to know that all the water, and destruction, have not damaged the spirit of the city― the people.
Saying prayers for everyone.