On September 1st, our Pursuit “Rider-in-Chief” and board member David Baldwin reached out with his wife Maire to ask supporters for help with The Center’s Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. We are touched by their compassion, but also motivated by the effective suggestions they offered for those wondering how they can get involved. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, so we are sharing their full letter below.
Dear Center Supporters and Pursuit Friends:
As we all know, The Greater Houston Area has received an unprecedented amount of rainfall from Hurricane Harvey. Since last Friday, many parts of the Houston area have received nearly 60″ of rain, and much of our city remains underwater. It will take months to clean up and years to rebuild in some of the hardest hit areas.
The Center was hit hard by the storm. On Wednesday, many of our friends gathered at The Center to assess the damage and assure the concerned residents and exhausted staff that everything will be okay. Despite the facilities damage from the catastrophic event, we managed to have a BBQ lunch thanks to Dean Williams and his amazing staff, and played Bingo and other games with the residents. Thank you to the 50 or more friends and to The Center’s Young Professionals Group who put their own difficulties aside to bring food, games, tools, and smiling faces to our residents.
The challenges presented by Hurricane Harvey have now become the start of our new Pursuit.
The Center is located next to Buffalo Bayou, which is one of the primary drainage arteries for our city. The good news is that our residential building is a 6-story building and is fully operating. The bad news is that the remainder of our campus is situated on lower lying ground, and closer to the Bayou. These other buildings took on substantial amounts of water, which is being pumped out. Unfortunately, it is not clear that we will be able to re-occupy these buildings any time soon, or ever.
The Center’s Leadership team met on Thursday to discuss a short-term plan to return our client programs to operational, and eventually back to “normal”. These programs provide services to 450 adults every day and allow their families to maintain their employment.
We expect the short-term negative financial impact to be significant. Our Pursuit Campaign, to which many of you so generously contributed, gave us the funds to finish the purchase of our land, and to pay-off our significant debts, but did not leave us with any meaningful short-term operating funds or reserves. Jerry Wische, our CEO, and our Leadership team estimated that it could take upwards of $1 million to pay multiple insurance deductibles, relocate our operations and pay staff while we do not have full service revenues. This is in addition to repairing the immediate damage caused to our property.
Although each of you has helped us in many ways during last year’s Pursuit, we are again asking for your support in any of the following ways:
Please consider making an unrestricted donation to The Center’s Harvey Recovery Fund. Maire and I will match your donation dollar-for-dollar up to the first $500,000 of donations. These cash donations, will give us the $1 million of operating funds we need for the next several months while we restore and reposition The Center’s full operations. If you wish to donate online, please click here and indicate the gift is In Honor of the Recovery Fund. Additionally, checks can be addressed to The Center Foundation and mailed to:
ATTN: The Center Foundation
3550 West Dallas Street
Houston, Texas 77019
The Center needs a large (6,000 – 10,000 sq. ft.), ground floor air-conditioned warehouse, ideally near a Metro line. Securing this space is critical to the many clients and families who depend upon The Center’s day programs. Additionally, we need temporary office space (less than 60 days) for 14 employees from our accounting and foundation departments.
Do we have any saints or saviors willing to donate under-utilized space? If you have any ideas, please contact Holt McNair or Kevin Kushner who are leading point on this.
Holt McNair: HMcNair@hfflp.com / 512.922.9413
Kevin Kushner: Kevin.Kushner@cbre.com / 713.881.0942
Volunteer and Ride
To continue The Center’s recovery, join Team Pursuit in October for the ‘Bike to the Beach Ride for Recovery’. This indoor and outdoor cycling event will be used to benefit The Center and other Houston area organizations that support people with disABILITIES.
The indoor portion of the event will utilize Mission Control from October 21st – 27th. We invite you, your family, friends and company to come ride virtually in Mission Control or volunteer! To conclude the week, we will ride from Houston to Galveston! The outdoor ride includes a 50-mile and 100-mile option, support along the way and a celebration at the finish line!
Additionally, we welcome any other disABILITY support organization in the Houston area to join this opportunity. Donations made on behalf of their volunteers and participants will benefit their organizations.
If you are interested in learning more or signing up, please contact Jourdan Ellis and click here.
Jourdan: Jellis@biketothebeach.org / 325.518.4188
It is difficult to reach out to you after your generosity and support throughout the Pursuit campaign, but Harvey has thrown a major challenge into our Pursuit to restore and to revitalize The Center. Maire and I, along with everyone at The Center are determined to finish what we started in 2016, and are grateful for any support you are able to provide.
With Gratitude, and in Pursuit,
David (and Maire) Baldwin