Whether distributing personal protective equipment, letting people restock from a 55-gallon drum of hand sanitizer or rebuilding homes after a hurricane, Katy Responds has been busy in its first two years.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit started in July 2018. Approaching its two-year anniversary, Katy Responds distributed 232,000 PPE masks to Houston Methodist West Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus; nonprofits like Katy Christian Ministries, Attack Poverty and Eyes on Me; and smaller churches and communities.
“Katy Responds has become a bridge to help others get what they need,” said Brianne Hill, Katy Responds Communications Coordinator. “While we were initially tasked with helping families flooded by Hurricane Harvey, Katy Responds is here to help in any disaster. Right now, that is COVID-19.”
Rachel Peckenpaugh at Methodist West said the 20,000 masks the hospital received on Friday, July 19, were a great help, particularly because the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer in its beginning stages.
“So since it’s in the middle right now, people aren’t thinking about what’s going on at the hospitals because everything’s opening back up … trying to get a new norm in their life, but this has been a huge blessing,” Peckenpaugh said.
Eighteen churches joined together nearly a year after Hurricane Harvey and formed Katy Responds because they realized that helping people rebuild and repair their homes from mold and havoc caused by flood waters was going to be a bigger task than they thought it would be. Now, there are 85 partners — about 80 are churches — from primarily the Katy area that are still working to meet needs in their communities. So far, Katy Responds has finished 72 homes and has gotten funding approved for 11 more. Yet there is still more need.
Ron Peters, Katy Responds incoming executive director, estimated there are still 750 to 1,000 homes, if not more, in the Katy Independent School District area that need work following Harvey because of mold and other issues. He said most of the families and individuals are still living in their once flooded, unrepaired homes.
“It just drives me bananas that I would leave people in their homes in a mold environment. It is so dangerous,” Peters said. “We’re seeing illnesses in these families that go unexplained. And then we get into the house, and we do an inspection. And there’s mold everywhere.”
Katy Responds is also working with Houston Responds in what they call congregational disaster readiness, training around 200 churches to assist in emergencies like Hurricane Harvey.
Supply Bridge Ministries used its truck to deliver many of the masks and typically works in supply drives following catastrophic events like hurricanes, floods and fires. They prepare what they call Bridge Boxes to give out, which include toiletries and hygiene products. Founder Nicholas Doherty said the volunteer organization is trying to gear up for a different kind of year, a hurricane season amid a global pandemic, and is looking for partners and donations to fund their work.
Although Katy Responds works with churches and organizations, unaffiliated volunteers are very welcome to join in the effort. Peters says he partners with a lot of groups so that more needs can be met across the Katy region and that he doesn’t care which one gets the credit.
“We just want people to get what they need,” Peters said. “When we work together, we are stronger. It is all about helping your neighbor.”