Rockville, MD - September 6th, 2017 - Architectural Ceramics was honored to be able to lead a team of 6 volunteers, including AC employees, leaders, and friends, to Houston, Texas and the surrounding areas over the last week. With many local donations and partnering with Washington Cares, AC was able to load up an entire truck (donated by Penske) with supplies and donations and drive it down Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Houston, Texas. The team worked with multiple churches, the US Coast Guard, and the National Guard to deliver supplies to places stranded by the floods.
Visit our Facebook page to watch Shane's Vlog series where he describes their trip via short videos, and keep reading below for an open letter from our President, Trey House, about his experience in Texas!
Check out our Facebook album to see all the pictures from their week in Texas here!
An Open Letter from Trey House, President of AC
Last Sunday night, I sent an email to Betty [AC's CEO] and her family asking if they felt called to play a part in the relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey. I knew that Architectural Ceramics' non-profit organization, Washington Cares, was founded for just these sorts of events, having already deployed for both Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. So it should have been no surprise when an enthusiastic "yes" came back immediately.
I could never have guessed what that 'yes' would mean. By Monday afternoon, we had the outline of a plan in place and our Marketing team put out a call for donations through email blasts and social media. The response blew me away! I was so impressed with our employees who rushed out to fill their cars with supplies to donate. Some of our clients took up collections at their office and then went shopping to gather even more supplies that they then dropped off at our showrooms. Our vendors got involved by donating a truck and massive amounts of water and other supplies (special thanks to Lisa O'Donnell for helping coordinate that!)! A local church made a substantial financial contribution that we used to buy even more supplies. Our HR Director's neighbor lent us a jon boat to bring down. We received other financial donations through the website, and Bimbo Bakeries donated over 15,000 Thomas’ English Muffins! The generous outpouring was incredible and we are so grateful!
We also had a team ready to serve on short notice including four AC team members (David Benson, Shane O'Donnell, Bryan Hutchinson and myself), plus two friends Will Alexander of Dale LLC and Justin Robinson of Excella Consulting (who also happens to be the husband of Sarah Robinson, our social media coordinator).
Before the team even got to Texas, people began to take notice of our efforts! Our marketing department connected with Channel 9 News, who included us in a story on local businesses helping out in Houston, and with Aly Jacobs of 98.7 WMZQ, who interviewed David on her radio show during the drive down.
By the time we got to Texas, the rain had stopped and the skies were cleared. However, many roads were still covered in water and the needs of the people were only becoming more evident. Because we deployed so quickly, we were actually on the ground before the Red Cross. Our role became one of filling gaps and being flexible to go where the need was greatest. If you followed Shane'svlog posts on Facebook, you saw how our plans were ever-changing and how appreciative the people were wherever we went.
We spent full days delivering truckloads of supplies to Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, two of the hardest hit areas with the least amount of support, before making the 24-hour trip back home to the D.C. area. It was an emotional and exhausting trip.
Being back home safely in the comfort of our homes, we are reminded how fortunate we are. Thousands of people lost their homes to flooding in Texas. Not only that, their workplaces and schools have also been ravaged by the flood waters. In short, entire communities will not be comfortable in their homes for many months to come. It's heartbreaking and we will continue to stay involved as the rebuilding effort goes on. We will look for opportunities to ship down more supplies and connect others to the network of people we met down there.
I said this trip was life-changing for me and here is why. In the past, I would be quick to reach for my wallet in such a circumstance and let others do the doing. But as I've learned in my time here, Architectural Ceramics is a company of action. This is thanks to the example set by our CEO, Betty Sullivan, who never stands by and just watches things happen. Being personally involved in the relief effort gave me a deeper appreciation of the challenges people face in these times, and the level of effort it takes to respond and meet their needs.
To this point, using Washington Cares to bless others is very important to Architectural Ceramics, and we want everyone to know that you don't have to go 1,500 miles away to do so. There are opportunities right here in our local communities to support families and others in need. We want you to be on the lookout for these opportunities so that, with your help, Washington Cares can take action to make things happen for the betterment of those in need.
Thanks again for all of your support and your donations of time, money and supplies. Thanks for your prayers for safety and effectiveness, and thanks for following us on social media, which helped to increase awareness of everything we were doing in Houston.