(JTA) — A new coalition of national Jewish organizations is mobilizing to send groups to help Houston with urgent and ongoing recovery needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service was founded to mobilize for Houston, which remains in need of recovery support five months after the devastating hurricane that dumped more than four feet of rain on the Texas city over four days in August.
The new coalition is made up of BBYO, Hillel International, JDC Entwine, Moishe House, OneTable, Repair the World and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. It is partnering with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston to form #ActNowHouston, an effort to place volunteer groups within ongoing recovery work coordinated by on-the-ground national and local agencies. The volunteers will aid some of the most vulnerable and underserved communities in the city, according to the coalition.
The coalition, which is facilitated by Repair the World, also is supported by the William Davidson Foundation, Marcus Foundation and Jim Joseph Foundation.
Damage from Hurricane Harvey resulted in nearly 200,000 homes flooded, including more than 2,000 of Houston’s 26,000 Jewish households, and the closure of entire residential and commercial sectors of the city. Thousands of Houston families remain in temporary housing, and nonprofit organizations either shut down or operating under severe constraints.
Since the hurricane, hundreds of volunteers from Jewish communities across the country have self-mobilized and headed to Houston to offer their service. Coalition organizers hope that #ActNowHouston will help extend national awareness of the continuing need in Houston, as well as lower the costs and difficulty of volunteering.
The webpage offers groups limited subsidies to assist with travel costs to Houston, as well as underwriting groups’ service while in Houston.
Tasks to be carried out by the volunteers include help removing damaged household items and sanitizing homes; package food and deliver essentials to the elderly or homebound; work with individuals coping with ongoing hardship; and assist local residents in navigating available resources.
“Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented destruction to Houston, and the Jewish community was hit especially hard,” Avital Ingber, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, said in a statement. “The solidarity and partnership we have experienced with Jewish organizations across the country has been energizing and revitalizing. While full recovery is expected to take years, our partnership with Act Now Houston expedites this critical work.”