My Community Rocks -Hurricane Irma Couldn’t Stop Us!

Written By

Debbi Ballard

Published on

December 1, 2017

Hurricane Irma hit South Florida hard.  Not as hard as we initially feared, but hard enough that we all felt the aftermath – some of us more than others.

Needing to Help

Now, I was incredibly lucky….I had a bit of a mess and no electricity; but with the help of my family I cleaned up relatively quickly.   Thankfully, my power was restored in a timely manner.  I was lucky.  So many others weren’t.  And, as seems to be the norm, those who were hardest hit were the most vulnerable of our community, the elderly and the children.   As I watched the news and scrolled through my Facebook feed (let me digress for a moment, what an amazing communication tool Facebook was during this difficult time), horrible stories of devastation and damage seemed to be everywhere.    It made my heart hurt and immediately I wanted to help.  No, I needed to help.  And so it began…..

Innocently enough, I posted my desire to help on my Facebook page; and over the course of a few days I was able to pinpoint an organization in considerable need:  Covenant House.

Who is Covenant House

Located in east Fort Lauderdale, Covenant House Florida is an organization that services runaways, homeless and at risk youth including teen parents and their babies.  In addition, they provide aftercare, transitional housing and and crisis shelters, among other services and have locations in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.  Locally, Covenant House provides shelter for a number of young people, and offers a broad range of  services to many others. This organization provides housing, food and counsel to a segment of our young population that would otherwise be without help.  As such, they are an invaluable resource to our community.

What happened

Hurricane Irma happened…..and she happened hard.  Because of Covenant House’s location, east Fort Lauderdale, it was one of the last organizations to have power restored.  However, they were still responsible for caring for the young people who relied upon them.  I was contacted and asked to help with the coordination of food and supply delivery.   They usually prepare their own food, but the lack of power left their kitchen inoperable.  So, I put out a call on my FB, and my community responded.

Our Response

At my core I am a teacher; one whose focuses in my lessons and my life on giving back and doing good.  I try to lead by example and have lead countless service projects in the past.  Every time I reach out to my community they respond — I am never disappointed.  I have to admit though, this time I could barely believe the response to my request.  After all, times were difficult for us all.  I questioned how much help I would receive.

The answer to my question was A LOT!  Families of my Edjewcation Station students, to my bar and bat mitzvah families, to my Mitzvah Makers families and my Shema Koleinu families all offered their help.  They donated food and supplies.  Together we delivered car loads of water, canned goods, fresh fruit, dry goods and snacks.  They donated money, which we were able to contribute to the organization to buy the items they needed.  And, they donated their time.  They volunteered to pick up and deliver hot meals to the kids at covenant house from the many restaurants that so generously provided food.

I did not need to ask for help twice.  In fact, at times I had to “choose” who to send to help because so many different people offered their assistance.  You know that old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”?    I now know my community is tough!

I am so proud of my families for once again stepping up. Community service is a large part of my life, and time and time again these wonderfully generous people step up and contribute their time and money and hearts.  Their children are so blessed.  They are learning from example from their parents, their community and their friends.  In short, they simply are the best.

Join my community

Looking for more information on edjewcation station, Shema Koleinu or Cantor Debbi Ballard?  Click the links displayed.  I would love to welcome you into my community and share with you all that we do.


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