The Heroes of Hurricane Harvey

Rockport, TX.  Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane (classified as Category 3 or stronger) to hit the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.  Harvey made landfall as a category 4 hurricane in Rockport, Texas with winds of 130 MPH.  My Aunt Sam lives in this wonderful small town on the Gulf Coast.  While her house has suffered damage, thankfully she is safe.

Harvey, much like life itself, was erratic in its development and it’s path remains unclear.  At first the storm was not well-defined and there was a chance it would not become a Tropical Storm.  Once the eye formation started, it quickly grew in size and strength.  Much like our words and actions, the impact of the storm extends far beyond the area where it makes landfall.  The slow speed and size of the outer bands of this storm will cause life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and tornadoes in many Texas counties for several days.

Houston, TX. Courtesy Houston TranStar

This morning KTRK reported that an estimated 370 billion gallons of rain fell here in Harris County in the last 24 hours. Sadly so, an additional 15-20″ of rain is expected in the next few days. The size and mass of destruction in the entire Texas coastal area is almost unfathomable.  I believe that when the storm finally ends, it will be one of the most expensive natural disasters in our nation’s history.

As I sit here in the safety of my home in a pouring rain, I am thankful and overwhelmed by a sense of pride to be a Texan and an American.  While much of the focus of news coverage in the United States in the past year has been focused on the unnecessary social destruction caused by racism, bigotry and political unrest.  I hope that the world will see the outpouring of kindness, compassion and strength of the residents of our great State of Texas.

Photo by Kevin Reece

People are helping people without regard to gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, political affiliation, religious beliefs or economic standing. Volunteers are bringing in boats, canoes, kayaks, and large trucks to rescue flood victims. Neighbors are helping neighbors board up and remove debris from the damage by high wind and rains.  Today in my own subdivision, 30+ residents came together to build a barrier to stop the high water coming in off the main street.  It was awesome to see everyone working together!

Photo by Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle, AP

I want to give heartfelt thanks to the heroes of Hurricane Harvey.  Thank you to all of the resident volunteers, law enforcement, armed forces, civic workers, and medical staff working to help those in need.  Thank you to the workers  in the many make-shift shelters.  I want to also give credit and thanks to the unsung heroes in this mess, the men and women in the news media working hard to give us excellent coverage.  It is very difficult to be live on the air for many hours straight with limited resources.   Thank you to all of the heroes of Hurricane Harvey.  I pray for safety and abundant blessings to your and your families!

The news coverage will die down in the coming days.  The spirit of humanity, compassion and willingness to help others will continue.  As our citizens rebuild their homes and businesses in the coming months, please provide help in any way you can – your prayers, time, talents and money are needed!!   It is important to remember that each of these “statistics” is a person – someone’s family member, friend, co-worker, classmate, and neighbor.

Please make a monetary contribution to the American Red Cross to help victims of this devastating storm.  Here is a link to donate:

I pray that the victims of Hurricane Harvey recover quickly and are abundantly blessed beyond what you had before Mother Nature unleashed this violent storm.   May God Bless Texas.

…. And Life Goes on. 

My Experience as a RodeoHouston Volunteer

For 3 years, I have had the privilege to be a member of the Communications & Special Services committee at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. If you have never been to this rodeo, I encourage you to do so!  I have been to many rodeos and this one is the biggest and the best! HLSR was founded in 1932 to promote western heritage, entertainment, education and agriculture.  The event, also known as RodeoHouston, runs for 20 days in March.  In addition to the paid staff, there are 33,000 volunteers on 107 different committees working hard to make this event run smoothly.

The Communications & Special Services committee was formed in 1972 to help promote the Show. Our committee of 170 members works under the umbrella of the marketing group taking surveys, hosting the press box, and doing photography for several other committees.  I asked my teammates for 1-2 words to best describe our volunteer experience, here are some of their responses: family, rewarding, proud, extreme gratification, humbling, inspiring, life-changing, team work, youth & education, for the kids, absolutely awesome, service with friends, community, and tradition.

We are the people in the black vests walking around the grounds or at the entry gate inside the stadium asking for 2 minutes for a survey. Next time we ask, please say yes! Marketing uses this information to obtain entertainer preference information and audience demographics.  In 2017, we set another record by taking more than 16,000 surveys!

Another area of service our committee provides is photography.  I am 1 of the 12 photographers.   I am thankful to be able to blend two of my favorite activities – volunteering and photography.  We take photos of the calf scramble winners, several awards for other committees, contestant head shots and full body shots, and the meet and greet with entertainers and fans.  Two of the most popular photo assignments are taking head shots for the participants in the Mutton Bustin’ event (we photograph over 100 children in one hour), and the Top Hands Horse Show for physically challenged children and adults.

This year my 50+ hours of volunteering was spent: attend 3 meetings, 5 rodeo performances for stadium survey and calf scramble photos, 1 ground survey, and 2 special photo events (Livestock Judging Awards and Top Hands Horse Show).  I enjoy cheering for the calf scramble contestants as they walk downstairs for the competition full of determination and excitement.  I like to see the pure joy and often exhaustion on the faces of the winners as we take their photos with the event donors.

I once heard a rodeo executive say “we are a family of families”.   I am so thankful to be a part of this rodeo family and this wonderful committee.  For as long as I am physically able to perform, I will proudly serve this great event.

Simply stated – I love this rodeo!  I already miss my team, the smell of good BBQ, the sights and sounds of the rodeo and carnival, the great entertainers, and of course ….. cowboy butts!

What is your favorite part of the rodeo?  What organizations do you volunteer for?

…..And Life Goes On 

For information on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo:

For information on the calf scramble and to see our photos: