“Our goal is simple,” said Corinn Price, director of community involvement at Kingwood-based Insperity. “Provide relief from Hurricane Harvey. Get the funds in and then get them out to our Lake Houston families and businesses in need.”
“We wanted to get help to those who need it as quickly as possible, so that we can restore our community,” added Cynthia Calvert, owner and publisher of The Tribune.
Price and Calvert both came to the same conclusion after learning that the Red Cross had told Houston Council Member Dave Martin that Lake Houston was “on its own” and that FEMA and the Small Business Administration were denying assistance to many area families and businesses: Lake Houston would have to create its own relief fund. Calvert contacted community leaders while Price contacted the Lake Houston Area Chamber and developed a plan. Within just a couple of weeks, the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund was born.
Price also contacted Millie Garrison at Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM), which has a great deal of experience verifying applicants, processing requests and distributing funds, to administer the program. A review committee of churches that are chamber members or a covenant church of HAAM was created. Individuals and businesses apply for a grant online; the fund pays for rent, house payments, car payments and utilities.
Members of the committee are Devon Alexander, Rick Alspaugh, Jenna Armstrong, Tim Baker, Johnny Brooks, Cynthia Calvert, Cristi Cardenas, Noel Cardenas, Gwendolyn Condoleo-Crawford, Philippe Cras, Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, Millie Garrison, Kevin Kilgore, Dave Martin, Pam McNair, Kelly Paull, Owen Parker, Corinn Price, Tony Raffa and Dr. Guy Sconzo.
“HAAM and Insperity are covering what operating expenses there may be,” said Calvert, “so 100 percent of what comes in goes out to help Lake Houston families and residents.”
Several organizations are designating profits that will benefit the fund. The Lake Houston Performing Arts Group plans three benefit performances while Kevin Kilgore has graciously offered The Overlook’s golf course for a fundraiser that will be scheduled soon. On Nov. 16, Lake Houston-area Chipotles will donate half of all receipts of customers who say that they’re supporting the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund.
Members of the committee are Devon Alexander, Rick Alspaugh, Jenna Armstrong, Tim Baker, Johnny Brooks, Cynthia Calvert, Cristi Cardenas, Noel Cardenas, Gwendolyn Condoleo-Crawford, Philippe Cras, Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, Millie Garrison, Kevin Kilgore, Dave Martin, Pam McNair, Kelly Paull, Owen Parker, Corinn Price,Tony Raffa and Dr. Guy Sconzo.
As Price contemplated what could be done for Lake Houston after Hurricane Harvey, she recalled a passage from the Bible, Exodus 17.
“As the Israelites fought the Amalekites, Israel had the advantage if Moses kept his arms raised,” Price said. “When he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek, so the Israelis took a stone, put it under him and he sat as two Israelites supported his arms, one on one side and one on the other, and the Israelis were able to defeat the Amalekites. We’re lifting the arms of the community. It’s a long battle, but the fund helps to support the hands that will help us win this battle.”
“Hurricane Harvey was an unexpected and unprecedented tragedy for our community,” said Calvert. “Thousands were affected. Insperity has been incredibly generous to donate $1 million and then match donations to reach $2 million, but we need everyone in Lake Houston to work together and donate.”
For information about the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund, go to lakehoustonarearelieffund.org and donate or apply for a grant.