My sister-in-law, Sylvana, was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Though she hasn’t lived in the vicinity for more than 20 years, Houston is still “home.” So, it was no surprise that when I saw her last Sunday morning, she was sick with worry about her parents, sisters and their families who all still reside in our nation’s sixth largest city which, as I pen this post, is still being bombarded with rain and residual flooding from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey.
By 3pm, she was frantic. She called to say, “My parents want to evacuate, but they cannot get out of their house. Do you have any connections in Texas?” My immediate thought was to take to social media to put out a request for assistance. Turned out, it was a productive idea.
Utilizing Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I published a series of messages along the lines of, “SOS! My family in Houston is trapped; wants to evacuate. Needs to be rescued by boat.” Within a few minutes, people began to answer the call. And when I say, “people,” I mean friends – old and new, near and far. I mean college friends and colleagues from companies spanning three decades. I mean people I’ve never met… who have never met me… who simply wanted to help. I mean people who were there to offer words of comfort and encouragement along with everyday heroes ready to go to my family’s aid by boat, by hum-v, by dump truck (no kidding!).
Within 24 hours, through the combined heft of social media, I received thousands of impressions (more than 6,000 via LinkedIn alone, for example) and hundreds of specific offers of assistance. To say it was overwhelming is putting it mildly. And, my request for assistance was but one of tens of thousands for others who needed help, too.
Believe me… building relationships and cultivating a solid, meaningful network is my true passion in life, but never before have I seen the ability to quickly mobilize take root in such a dramatic way. If ever there was a question as to whether “it’s worth it” to network and establish connections with people, Harvey proved my point… the answer is an unequivocal, “YES!” If one person can mobilize thousands of people to action, think of what we could all do together. It’s mind blowing! Indeed, we need these connections. We survive on these connections. We thrive on these connections.
From the depths of my heart to every person who read and/or responded any one of my many messages regarding the situation in Houston over the past week, please accept my boundless gratitude. You can’t know the wonderful, positive impact you had on my family and on my own psyche.
Allow me to leave you with this excerpt from a message I received from somebody on LinkedIn with whom I am a second-degree connection… just one human to another – strangers, really, giving hope and comfort…
“Alana… Earlier this week you posted a request for assistance in the evacuation of your [family] from Houston. Did you ever get a response? I’ve searched for follow up confirmation but haven’t seen any. As a personal note, my sister is a Houstonian and, fortunately, she is unaffected (so far). The family is getting semi-daily email/text blasts re her situation. It has made Hurricane Harvey a personal story, which caused affinity for your situation. I truly pray your [family is] okay.”
…I remain moved beyond words.
If you feel compelled to help those impacted by the effects of Hurricane Harvey, please take action and mobilize yourself! A couple of organizations through which I plan to assist are Heart to Heart International and Jewish Family Service of Houston. If you know of other organizations or ways to help, please take a moment to leave a comment at CoffeeLunchCoffee.com. Similarly, if you have a story about your own people and how they were impacted by the storms, the CLC Community would love to hear from you. In the meantime, sending well wishes and healing thoughts to the residents of Houston and its outlying areas.