As the winds of Hurricane Harvey began to batter the Texas coastline on August 25, few residents of the region could have imagined the destruction those gusts would leave behind. Evacuees and displaced survivors of the storm sought refuge with family, friends, and in shelters. But for residents of group homes, finding a place that could house children and caregivers together was a particular struggle.
This was the struggle facing residents and staff of a treatment center for young people in Taft, Texas. Located just across the bay from Corpus Christi, the facility treats adolescents with substance abuse disorders. Left without power for ten days, the center’s director of residential services, Gary, struggled to find a place for the 27 children and 10 staff who could not be separated or take advantage of traditional shelter environments. That’s when grace led Gary to contact David Thompson, chief operating officer of Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS). David quickly made arrangements for the group to stay in homes on the PCHAS campus in Waxahachie, south of Dallas.
On Friday of Labor Day weekend, volunteers and PCHAS staff, under the direction of Kandi Shaw, rushed to prepare the homes for the evacuees. Annette Goss led a group from Central Presbyterian Church in Waxahachie who stocked the kitchens with food and provided much-needed supplies like clean socks and underwear. When the children and adults finally arrived, they were greeted with all the comforts of home.
The PCHAS team in Waxahachie also received supports from the manager of a local Cici’s Pizza, who donated 50 pizzas to the displaced children and staff. Girl Scout Troop 878, led by Jessica Hallett, stepped up with donated meals and boxes of cookies, while Phyllis and Dave Carlson brought paper supplies from the members of Living Hope Church of the Nazarene.
Ginny Lynch, PCHAS senior development officer, reported that one of the most heart-warming moments of the relief effort was a Sunday lunch meal provided by a home group of one of the local churches. Fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and rolls made for a comforting time of fellowship for all involved. “It was such a special experience for all involved,” described Lynch. “We were blessed to provide a loving refuge for children and caregivers displaced by the hurricane.”
For all involved, while it was necessitated by a natural disaster, PCHAS staff were pleased to provide hospitality and care for children. We give thanks for the chance to serve those who look to us in their time of need.