Things I Re-Learned While Nervously Watching the Houston Flood Unfold #Harvey

For the past few days, I’ve been sitting, feeling helpless and stressed as I read post after post of people begging for their lives and the rescue of their stranded family members. I know it’s probably not healthy to constantly watch these types of tweets, but I also feel it’s emotionally unhealthy to just look away and be apathetic.

 

So I have been riding my knees from afar, praying, knowing that is really all I can do at the moment. I’ve been tweeting emergency information to those who need it, hoping that one of the numbers will work for them. I’ve donated to a trusted cause.

 

Thankfully, the vast majority of people who were in trouble have been rescued according to the most recent reports. And I’ve been seeing some beautiful stories come out of this ugly situation that have definitely inspired me.

 

A few key truths have been revealed in the past few days about people (particularly Americans) and about life in general. These are truths that I already knew to be true, but it’s a bit of a relief to see them confirmed once again. This country has been in a state of emotional distress for about a year, making many of us question what is true and what is “fake.”

 

Here is what I re-learned from watching the Houston flood drama unfold.

 

There Are Good People Out There–LOTS of Them
It can be tempting to focus on all the stories about people who are negative, mean, and apathetic — especially thanks to 24/7 social media. But if you shift your focus, you’ll see that there are many, many, many really awesome, thoughtful, and caring people in the world. They just don’t get as much attention on a daily basis. See this story, this story and this photo (volunteers lined up) if you need to be reminded that there are plenty of very good human beings still out there.

 

We Have to Help Ourselves and Each Other in Trying Times — We Need Each Other
When situations like the Houston flood occur, citizens can’t always expect a gov agency or emergency phone number to provide safety or rescue immediately. We have to be prepared to help each other and ourselves in stressful times.

 

When you’re in a position to help someone in distress, your responsibility as a good human is to do what you can to help. It might be loading your boat into the back of your pickup and driving miles to save a family. It might mean donating supplies to a shelter to make sure that people are clean and eating. It might mean putting your favorite pastime on pause and spending the day spreading necessary information. It might mean simply getting on your knees and praying in earnest. We have to help each other.

 

One woman on Twitter took the time out of her day to make calls to emergency lines on behalf of distressed people on social media to ensure that they were on rescue lists. It was a small thing that made a big difference.

 

Preparedness is the main way we can help ourselves. No one should be fighting over bottled water the day before a major natural event. Every home should have an emergency preparedness kit, canned foods, and loads of water stashed away. People often laugh at doomsday “preppers” — those people who stock their basements and emergency shelters with canned goods and water. But to a certain degree they have the right idea in mind. With climate change and so many other threats worldwide, now more than ever we have to be prepared for emergencies.

 

I also think it might be a good idea to make small, inexpensive boats requirements for every household or rental property that is located in a potentially vulnerable coastal area. Or at least a fleet of boats stocked by towns/cities. I learned that you can buy a standard boat for under $200, which I think is reasonable. Countless people were saved because of the bravery and dedication of private citizens who owned their own boats.

 

Follow Your Intuition, Always
Days before the flooding happened in Houston, some people from the area were posting memes and light-hearted jokes about Harvey. They were unfortunately doing this instead of preparing and making serious decisions about what to do to protect themselves and their families. Sometimes the fun of social media has to be put aside to handle serious matters. Also, I believe that regardless of what may be broadcast on the news, you have to follow your intuition in tough situations like this. Trust your intuition, always.

 

Color, Religion, Etc. Doesn’t Matter When You Need Urgent Help

I believe it has only been a few weeks since a group of white nationalists marched on Charlottesville VA, threatening minority groups with violence. It lead to the death of an innocent woman who was bravely countering the hate.

 

One important truth that the Houston floods has revealed is that color doesn’t matter when it comes to saving someone or getting saved. People of all races, religions, and backgrounds were riding in those boats together, just thankful to be with each other and safe.

 

America Can Still Be Great Again, But Again It’s Up to Us
Working together, loving one another, planning, and implementing smart ideas — these are the things that have kept the USA strong and revered by other nations for so long. We have to get back to all of that and eliminate the negative distractions that are causing division. We have to come together and put differences aside for the greater good.

 

We also have to stand up and speak up about what’s wrong and how to make it right. This doesn’t have to be done from a huge, popular media platform — a conversation can start right at your kitchen table.

 

Love Lynn
Lynn is the author of You Matter and other empowering audiobooks for women.
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5 Great Reasons to Donate to DonorsChoose.org this School Year

If your charitable giving is focused around helping young people, you’ll want to learn more about DonorsChoose.org . It’s a popular website that allows you to donate money to school projects that are set up by educators at elementary schools, junior highs and high schools around the country. You get to choose who you will donate to, right down to the state, city and even the specific school that you want to support.

I was inspired to write this article after receiving an email with pictures from a classroom I donated to back in February. Their request was for supplies to start a garden at their school, which is located in a high poverty area. Months later, I woke up to find an email link to an online album full of pictures showing how their garden has grown!

There are so many great reasons why you should donate to DonorsChoose.org this school year—here are just five of them:

1. It Reminds You of What Is Good and Going Right in The World

When we turn on the television or click onto social media, we’re constantly bombarded with negative stories that can cloud our minds and that may make us think that this world is not so great. We can become so overwhelmed with these stories and messages that we start to think that our society is going completely down the tube. But when you look at ambitious school projects like the many that are being supported at DonorsChoose.org, you realize that there is some good out there in the world. Maybe we need to just focus more on that?

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Image courtesy of DonorsChoose.org

2. The Children Are the Future

It sounds trite but this phrase is and always will be true, generation after generation: the children are the future. The way that children are reared, guided, taught and supported today will affect how they conduct themselves and manage our society in the future. It’s our responsibility as knowing, caring adults to support them in any way that we can. For instance, those children who have learned about growing a garden could become advanced agriculturists of the future. They could be key to keeping us healthy as a society 20 or 30 years from now. And you helped them.

3. You Can Relax Knowing that Your Donation is Directly Benefiting the Children

Some people avoid donating to charities for children because they’re not sure how much of their donation will actually make it to the children. With DonorsChoose.org, there’s a specific project goal set and when it’s reached, administrators order the supplies and send them directly to the school. Though the organization may collect a small administrative fee, I feel comfortable knowing that most of my dollars are definitely going to help the students achieve their goals.

4. You Can Donate Any Small Amount and It Still Makes an Impact

When I started out donating to Donors Choose, I would submit small donations in the amount of $7 to multiple projects. What I quickly found was that even a small donation amount would cause a ripple effect and the project would be fully funded in a day or two. Sometimes national or local businesses match the donations of individuals to help the classroom reach its goal more quickly.

5. The Kids Know that Someone Out There Cares

There’s a crisis of children (and adults) who believe that they don’t really matter to the world. Donating to DonorsChoose.org and leaving a message for the kids (and their teacher) is a way to combat that. The students will always remember that someone out there in the world cared about their existence and supported them.

When you donate to DonorsChoose.org and similar organizations for children, you can feel confident that you’re making a difference. If you ever forget that you made a difference, chances are that you’ll get a little reminder via email from a classroom full of excited children. Create an account at the DonorsChoose.org today and donate any amount to a school project that you’re passionate about.

Love Lynn


Lynn Gilliard is an author and blogger. Her new book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth. She is also the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.