By Jen Edwards.
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, people across the country did whatever they could to help. Stan Houseworth was one of those people.
Stan and a friend drove all the way from Fresno, California to Louisiana in order to lend a hand because they “just couldn’t sit at home and watch everybody suffer.”
They weren’t able to get into the affected area because they weren’t already trained volunteers. Fortunately they met a Red Cross staff member who helped them get connected with the relief effort. Stan and his friend were trained and sent to a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, where they worked for two weeks.
After that experience Stan wasn’t able to volunteer as much as he would like due to work commitments. Even so, he came back to the Red Cross ten years later when he heard an appeal for Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers. He signed up right away “to do DAT and whatever else they needed me to do.”
Today Stan is in Southeast Texas supporting recovery efforts in communities affected by historic flooding. Every day he distributes supplies and other items that help families clean out their damaged homes, such as gloves, rakes, shovels and trash bags. Other supplies include protective items like dust masks, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
Stan’s goal is simple: “Make sure somebody else has a better day than me.” This goal has motivated him to travel all the way across the country to help people he doesn’t know. He isn’t the only one, because he has met volunteers from Hawaii, New York City, Oregon and Washington.
All of the hard work is worth it when he sees people who are sad and depressed, either in flooded areas like Southeast Texas or at other relief operations across the country. He’s grateful he can give them hugs to let them know someone cares…that it will get better.
Even though Stan is here in Southeast Texas to offer aid, he reflects on how the very people he is helping are actually helping him. “My heart has just opened up so much since I arrived. Those who are facing hard times just reach out and touch you and put a smile on your face.”