College community reacts to Hurricane Harvey, pitches in to help

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Correction: Lisa Black is a professor of social work.

Donated items sit in a loading dock are as volunteers works to organize the items donated for Hurricane Harvey victims, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. AccuNet/AP

T-shirts, shoes and hygiene items are being collected in addition to cash.

Students and employees of this college detailed their efforts to support the people and animals affected by Hurricane Harvey through barbecues, donations and assistance from interns.

Sam Casey, men’s basketball coach at this college, said student athletes are helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

He said Kelvin Sampson, the University of Houston’s men’s basketball head coach, made a post on Instagram in hopes of getting a response from other universities.  

Sampson posted, “I’ve had so many friends in the coaching profession text and call offering prayers and thoughts for all Houstonians. They all ask what we can do to help. Well, I came up with something I think coaches at all levels can help with …”

The post asked for men’s and women’s teams from high school through college to send 20 of their school’s T-shirts and 10 pair of shoes to distribute.

The response to Sampson’s Instagram post has been widespread.

The University of Houston has received shirts from several other universities, such as Columbia University, Wheelock College, Rider University and this college. This college’s intramural teams will donate 45 T-shirts.

Today, two men’s basketball players, two women’s volleyball players and two women’s basketball players recorded an Instagram video as a motivational message to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The athletes’ script read:

“To our brothers and sisters in Houston. We don’t have much but what we do have were happy to share. We know you will be resilient in your recovery. Together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. Houston Strong!”

You can see this video by following the men’s basketball Instagram account @sacmbb or checking out their website

Patrick Elizondo, president of the Kinesiology Club, said he has chosen to contribute his time to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey by participating in a drama skit whose character will play the “devil.”

He said the church he attends, Last Chance Ministries, is conducting an event at 6 p.m. Sept. 1 to sell barbecue plates to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims.

During the barbecue plate sale, participants can listen to a band and watch the “Sins” drama skit.

His intention in participating in the drama skit is to remind everyone that although people are all dealing with negative effects of Hurricane Harvey, God will not leave their side.

For more details about this event, visit

Sociology Professor Lisa Black, director of the Student Advocacy Center, said the center is aiding in the relief efforts for the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey by sharing interns with other agencies.

“We’re trying to support the 211 system,” she said. “Texas 211 is a statewide system, which is an intake for phone calls for people needing help. Here at SAC, we’re sharing our interns with them. They’re there this morning getting trained.”

Once calls for 211 begin to die down, the student advocacy center has plans to offer students opportunities to do service learning.

Students will be able to work with relief organizations, such as the Red Cross and directly aid victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Black has family in the regions affected.

“My brother told me yesterday ‘I woke up on Saturday morning. I had a home, I had cars, I had food, I had a job and now I have none of those today.’”

Black believes those wishing to provide aid should get involved with organizations trained to respond to disasters.

“Don’t deploy yourself to Houston,” she advised. “That’s unwise. Work with the folks who know what they’re doing.”

Because her family is from Southeast Texas, she has had experience with catastrophic storms, such as Katrina and Rita. This storm is different from the others, and she believes it will take many years for the affected communities to recover.

Despite this, she has an optimistic view of relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey as long as caution is practiced.

“San Antonio is primed to be a huge blessing for Houston,” she said. “But it has to be done in a way that makes sense.”

Maura Reyes, cyber security freshman and software tester at the San Antonio H-E-B corporate office, was overwhelmed by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“When I first heard that there would be a hurricane approaching, I didn’t think anything of it and I did not prepare for anything at all. On Friday, my boss at the H-E-B corporate office had asked for volunteers to work at the retail stores because there were hundreds of people coming in to be prepared,” she said.

Reyes volunteered to help on both Friday and Saturday and said people were scrambling in, trying to stock up on food and water. She also mentioned that H-E-B is taking donations for relief efforts on its website.

All donations will be distributed to various nonprofit organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

To donate through H-E-B, go to

“I think that a lot of us were underestimating what was going to happen but I’m glad that everyone in Texas is trying to stick together to help,” Reyes said.

Linda Casas, facility manager in the kinesiology program, said she is participating in relief efforts by donating hygiene items.

She said she is partnering with a church, Believers Fellowship, whose coordinator also is a member of the kinesiology program, Instructor Dawn Brooks. The church is collecting donations and will transport the items to Corpus Christi.

She said her only frustration has been the panic from local drivers who have created congestion on her route home at 410 and Bandera as they wait in line to enter the gas stations.

She said the panic from local residents is creating unnecessary congestion, which makes her upset because it has added time to her commute after a long workday.

Students, faculty and staff also expressed concern for animals impacted by the hurricane.

Angelica Nevarez, former psychology student and current administrative assistant in the counseling and advising center, said she was devastated by the many Facebook photos she had seen of animals being left behind in the disaster in the Greater Houston area.

Being both an animal lover and an owner of three cats, Bob, Patches, and James, Nevarez was upset and will take action by donating to a GoFundMe account created by her cousin, San Antonio resident Valerie Flores, to aid the animals affected in the disaster.

Volunteers unload 35 dogs from Texas shelters flown to make space for companion animals rescued in the Hurricane Harvey aftermath, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, in Seattle. The dogs arriving in Seattle were already in Texas shelters when Harvey hit and are being transferred to Seattle-area shelters so animals displaced from the flooding can be cared for in Texas until they can be reunited with their families there. The rescue transfer is a collaboration between Humane Society of the United States, Wings of Rescue, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and other Seattle-area shelters. AccuNet/AP

“I was saddened to see so many animals being left behind,” she said. “Many people are focused on the people being affected and people are forgetting about the pets who are trapped in the water.”

Radio-television-broadcasting freshman Israel Avila has donated $25 to the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

He donated the money to help animals rescued from the flooding in the Houston area.

“I have a soft spot for animals,” he said. “I have two dogs, and one of them just had puppies.”

Avila has family in the Houston area, and although their homes were flooded, they are still using kayaks and canoes to help others.

Thelma Dominguez, American Sign Language and interpreter training administrative assistant, has family in the Houston area who had to be rescued from the flooding.

Dominguez’s aunt, Terry Eukel, was rescued by canoe after the floodwaters rose above her kitchen cabinets.

Eukel got into the canoe, but her cat refused to go with her.

Twenty-four hours later Eukel was able to go back to her home and rescue her cat.

Kimberly Brown, Sarah Centeno, Tania Flores, Shamona Wali and Tristan Weaver contributed to this story.


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