Over the course of the last 8 months it has become easier and easier to get swept up in the constant negativity and feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, alongside this ever-present need connect with the world around us – even though social distancing measures are still in place. I know in the midst of it all I’ve definitely asked myself – “is there anything good left?!”

Little did I know the answer to my (very rhetorical) question – not to mention a solve for this feeling of hopelessness – would come shortly thereafter in the form of a company email from the man himself, Patrick Henry, which read:

"Today we sent a letter and a check to the family of fallen officer Sheena Powell. She was on the Beaumont police force less than two years.  She was tragically killed while responding to a call when an intoxicated driver hit her going the wrong way...”

This got me thinking about a couple of things. First, I questioned why I have not used this time to give back to others and help out my community. Then, I wondered if anyone else on the PHCP team had served their community recently. I obviously needed some ideas on how I could get involved, so I figured I might as well ask.

Here’s an important life lesson I learned during my inquiry: even during a tumultuous time like we are currently experiencing with COVID-19, we can still grow as human beings and make a difference in other people’s lives if we decide to take action and serve our community. The following PHCPers inspired me to do so, and I hope they inspire you as well. 

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Every year, LLS chapters across America participate in a grueling 10-week fundraising campaign. This initiative is built primarily around the raising of monetary donations to help fund researchers as they aim to develop a cure for blood cancers. The fundraiser is geared around a friendly competition, where every dollar raised equals one point to the candidates as they strive to achieve the title of Man or Woman of the Year.

Year after year, multiple teams raise upwards of $150,000, which is amazing no matter how you chalk it up. PHCP’s very own Ryan Broussard contributed in this year’s campaign, since a close friend was in the running for Man of the Year for Houston’s LLS chapter, by helping create different marketing pieces in his free time that could be shared on various social sites. This year, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the playing field changed drastically and hindered the efforts of every team in the running. No longer was it appropriate to host gatherings to raise funds while having a little fun together, so the campaign changed to basically asking for donations via phone and email. Sadly, with the personal aspect almost completely removed, it became incredibly difficult to convince anyone and everyone that it was the time to donate to such a great cause. By the end of the 10-week campaign, Ryan’s team consisted of only 4 strong and dedicated members.

Nonetheless the team gathered remotely for a digital gala and waited anxiously as winners and fundraising research grants were announced. Any team to surpass $50,000 in funds raised were given a research grant to name on someone’s behalf. While Ryan’s friend and LLS team-lead had a person in mind for a research grant, Ryan was raising funds for two different people who are not only close to him, but close to the entire PHCP family as well. Those people are:

Our wonderful Office Manager and Non-Hodgkin’s Diffuse B Cell Lymphoma SURVIVOR, Paige McLaren, who is thankfully in remission.
Danny Vara, the amazing husband of one of our Senior Graphic Designers, Kelli, whose diagnosis came along during the second half of the Man and Woman of the Year campaign.

Because of this, Ryan did his best to raise even more than he had originally planned, now on behalf of two very strong people. In the end, Ryan’s team raised over $64,000, which turned out to be the dollar sign on the golden ticket, winning his friend the title of Man of the Year for the Houston chapter!!

To learn more about the LLS and their efforts to cure blood cancers, click here.

Tulu Whiteside, one of our star mixologists, was able to raise roughly $700 for the Southern Smoke Foundation in the first 2 weeks of quarantine by pairing his humor with his impeccable cocktail crafting skills on his Facebook Live.

What started as 1 video, where he walked viewers through building his creation, the Fragile Manhood Spritz, explaining the importance of each step of cocktail making, answering any beverage-related questions that came up and sharing history or fun facts about the brands he was using, quickly gained well over 700 views and spurred multiple requests for more videos – not to mention more cocktail recipes! Tulu saw this as an opportunity to support the industry he has worked in for many years and ended up posting over 10 more videos – donating any “tips” he received directly to charity.

The NaNa NaNa Quarantini - one of the cocktails created in Tulu's Facebook Live Videos

“I have been blessed during this national crisis, but I know there are others who deserve assistance. Whatever tips I make from my cocktail videos will be donated to a charity that serves our area food service workers.”

Tulu Whiteside

Southern Smoke was created by Chris Shepherd in 2015 to “take care of their own” by raising funds for charitable purposes – principally for support and assistance for those in the food and beverage community and their suppliers. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund has distributed $3,008,923 to 1,634 people.

To find out more about this foundation and the resources they offer our community, click here.

Amy Parham, alongside her husband Josh, donated funds to have their own garden plot at the Interfaith of The Woodlands Veggie Village and have been volunteering their time by growing and harvesting all different kinds of vegetables. The Veggie Village Community Donation Gardens are welcoming places where people work and learn together, while providing fresh, organic produce to the Interfaith Food Pantry and Senior Living Complexes. Actually, 90% of the food harvested in these plots is donated directly to the Interfaith Food Pantry!  

Interfaith of The Woodlands is a nonprofit social service agency providing numerous programs and services to meet the needs of residents in The Woodlands and the surrounding areas. What began as a dream has flourished into a reality and is helping thousands of individuals and families every single year. The Veggie Village was created to provide:

Fresh food, using organic and sustainable gardening practices, for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

A place where members of the community, including the elderly, disabled and children, work together within our natural habitat.

Education in sustainable living, including gardening, environment care and nutrition.

To find out more about this organization, head over to https://woodlandsinterfaith.org/programs-services/veggie-village/

Christy Sevier and her family actively volunteer in the foster care and homeless communities alongside their church, and the other amazing teams of people who love and care for vulnerable Houstonians.

The Sevier Family

In recent months they have had the opportunity to assist foster families with immediate needs for the children placed with them, by delivering bedding, air mattresses, clothing, shoes, grocery store gift cards and even a dresser that had been donated! Christy is a certified foster care babysitter and enjoyed spending a recent evening hanging-out with 5 awesome girls in foster care, so their foster parents could attend a very important graduation. In addition to working with foster families across the city, her efforts also include working alongside Child Protective Services (CPS) to provide assistance however possible. Recently, many people wrote notes of encouragement to caseworkers and they were delivered to the local CPS office along with candy and masks that had been donated.

On the third Saturday of every month, the Sevier’s can be found at 311 Austin Street in downtown Houston along with other members of their church. Each month they bring music, a church service, 125 sacked lunches that are packed the night before and, when possible, hygiene packs, clothing, sleeping bags, etc.  

Giving back to the community can evoke a sense of purpose and positivity – directly combating that sense of hopelessness which may have been brought on by current events. It can also help connect you with others and even grow the skills you already have – or teach you new ones! If you are looking for ways to boost your mood, use extra free time productively, AND set positive examples for friends, family, and the children in your life, we have a few ideas to get you going. Below are our top picks for giving back to your local community, wherever that may be!

Ideas on how to give back and serve your community:

Make a surprise delivery to your local police department or fire station with treats and goodies to show appreciation.

Make hygiene packs or “blessing bags” to pass-out when you see a person who is homeless. Ideas of things to include: a bottle of water, nonperishable snacks, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sanitizer, wipes, deodorant, etc.

Become a certified foster care babysitter by contacting a local foster/adoption agency, completing the training, and be paired with a local foster family.

Write notes of encouragement and deliver or mail them to local first responders, teachers, child protective service caseworkers, etc.

Think of nonprofits, churches and other organizations serving the vulnerable community when you have gently used or new clothing or furniture to donate.

Donate to and volunteer at local food banks or food drives.

Volunteer at an animal shelter to walk animals waiting for adoption and/or bring a bag of food to donate.

Author: Bradie Bowen
Created: 2020/08/20
Updated: 2020/08/20
Category: Act of Kindness

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