We are thankful to the large organizations that are on the ground and providing funding for relief to the city of Houston. They can do so many more things than we have the capacity or knowledge to do.
We also understand that some people are skeptical of giving to large corporations because of concern that the funding will somehow be distributed in ways we did not intend. I do not intend to add cynicism to that, because again, I know there are large organizations out there do a lot of good on the ground. When Hurricane Katrina hit, I had the pleasure of serving alongside Red Cross in East Texas in a gym housing refugees. I know first hand the good that these organizations can do in times of crisis.
We also are deeply connected to the city of Houston and the people who make it what it is. I (Joseph Solomon) am from Texas and lived in Houston for years, though I currently live out of state. We have friends, families, and churches that we love dearly that have been emotionally and materially setback by this storm. Right now, finances don’t necessarily immediately help most people. If they are without food and water or other resources, most of them won’t be able to simply go to the store and buy something. This is where organizations and churches with boots on the ground are shining in the moment.
However, I do know people who will be financially affected by this when the water subsides. Some have lost homes, cars, and possessions. Some have suffered property damage that may not be covered by their insurance. Some have had to evacuate and obviously not been to work and possibly won’t be returning to work anytime soon.
We can’t say we know all the answers to how to respond to this, but we know we are to respond to this.
Through prayer, phone calls with people who are displaced, and asking for wisdom from others, we have decided to do a few things:
1. Send funds directly to families in need. Not just “families” in general, but families that we personally know or friends and families of people that we know personally. Currently we have a working list of about 10-12 families, including a couple of them that are dear friends whose homes were flooded and they were evacuated in the middle of the hurricane on boats. We considered posting names, but will likely just post initials so as to respect privacy, but you would still know who to pray for and how to pray, as well sending money.
2. The next thought is that we will also send money to smaller churches that are serving as shelters in the city and also will need money to materially restore their members and communities. These churches include ones that we have personal connection with over the years, as well as one that I (Joseph Solomon) was a member of for years.
We will be updating information here and on social to keep donors informed specifically as possible as to how this money is being spent. GoFundMe takes a percentage for the online service, but aside from that, we are giving 100% of these funds in the ways mentioned above. We want to be as open as possible, so we will answer as many questions as we can to inform you of how these funds are directly being distributed.
3. Provide donation links (josephsolomonlive.com) to these churches that we know are doing direct work with their members and community, as well as organizations who are looking to do the same. These are trustworthy churches and organizations and are smaller in size. They are currently doing good work in the city, and have been doing so long before the hurricane hit.
4. We want to provide a working list of links and information on how to volunteer if you are safely able to and happen to be near the Houston area.
We often pray that God would provide relief to people, and I believe that Scripture would lead us to believe that we are that relief that God wants to use in times of need (2 Corinthians 8:1-7; James 2:14-17).
Please pray. Be the active hands and feet of Jesus. Then, pray again.
Thank you so much for your support. We are beginning to send funds out this week.
We want to give a significant amount of money to each family or individual, but we also want to help as many families as possible. We have decided that $500 will go to displaced couples and individuals, and $1000 will go to displaced families. This will allow us to help about 25+ families if we reach the $25k mark.
We will withdraw the funds from GoFundMe, and then distribute to individuals and families via PayPal, since there would be no fee for transactions like this. All they need is to set up a PayPal account.
Again, these are families and individuals that have lost much, and either we know them or they are known well by someone we know. It is a great feeling to know we can directly give to these families as they are beginning the rebuilding of their lives.