Stories of Change

A staff member holds a CWS Blanket at ECHOS.

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, CWS provided more than 150,000 CWS Blankets, Hygiene Kits, Emergency Cleanup Buckets, School Kits, tarps, stoves, propane tanks, bungee cords and water filters to affected communities.

You Know it When you See it

Everyone – staff and clients — at Episcopal Community Health Services, known as ECHOS, in southwest Houston know it when they see it.

Cathy Moore, ECHOS Director, and her staff know that people who come to ECHOS are trying to stabilize and improve their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Even now, months after the storm, folks are rebuilding lives, homes and communities.

“Yesterday a client – very pregnant – came in. I noticed she picked up a business card from our domestic abuse prevention partner,” Cathy said. After speaking to her, Cathy and the staff decided to give her a $100 Walmart gift card. “We call the cards our ‘you know it when you see it’ gift cards because you know it when you see someone in need,” Cathy continued, “The cards are another gift from Church World Service.”

CWS “found us,” said Cathy, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Thanks to the generosity of the CWS family who supported emergency response efforts, our team provided CWS Cleanup Buckets, a cash grant and CWS Blankets (which were distributed when I visited ECHOS on February 7). CWS also provided disaster response plan training for ECHOS staff, church leaders and other interested community leaders.

The people who look to ECHOS for assistance know it when they see it, too: clients like Ana and her mother. “I am thankful for the health care my mother receives at ECHOS,” said Ana.  “When someone walks through the door they know that they will be received with kindness.”

Traveling to Houston from Austin on a cold, rain-soaked day, my energy level was low when I arrived at ECHOS. But during the visit, I realized the new ECHOS-CWS partnership matches the best of local care-giving with the resources that CWS can offer. The staff invited me to their 7:30 meeting that morning. From that point and throughout the day, it was obvious that each ECHOS staffer and volunteer was filled with enthusiasm, compassion and a willingness to work hard. One staffer said that it was like CWS “had dropped from heaven” to help ECHOS in the overwhelming days and months after Hurricane Harvey.

Returning to Austin, Cathy Moore’s words rang true. You do know it when you see it.

This story was written by Kevin Murphy, a CWS Community Engagement Specialist based in Austin, Texas.

(ECHOS is an outreach ministry of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany)