Community Connections support Harvey recovery

A Community Connections event, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, was held at Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, on May 19. This event served as a festival for the heart and soul and offered compassionate outreach to Port Aransas residents recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and information on helpful resources that they can access.

communityconnections-outside.jpgCommunity Connections was formed to provide solace and support to those in need of help, inspiration, and useful information after the devastation to the Coastal Bend by Hurricane Harvey.

“This event focused solely on the people of Port Aransas who continue to grapple with the relentless demands of recovery. So many spend their time and energy focusing on the tourists who come to town, and we focused on providing encouragement and support for them through our compassionate offerings. We gathered for lunch, listened to some great live music, and even gave away a few door prizes," said Gayle Gottlich, Community Connections chairwoman. “It is easy to feel isolated when you are experiencing difficulties, even when you know that so many others are facing the same problems. Participating in your community is healing.”

communityconnections-mural.jpgOne of the activities included a collaborative sunflower mural painting project, imprinted with the Bible verse, "Behold, I make all things new," to be mounted on the children's playground at Trinity by the Sea Episcopal School, the only pre-kindergarten childcare program in Port Aransas.

Admission was free and open to Port Aransas-area residents. Exhibitors present represented a wide range of organizations, including the Red Cross, Save the Children, Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group, Rockport/Fulton Good Samaritans, Salvation Army, Helping Hand Food Pantry (local ecumenical food pantry), Lutheran Disaster Relief, Knights of Columbus/St. Joseph’s Catholic Church – Disaster Relief, Endeavors (Veterans disaster support), Driscoll Health Plan, Eric Hardison LPC, Trinity-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church Women and parish ministries, and Sandcastle Church (disaster relief).

communityconnections-inside.jpg"I found the experience invaluable as I was able to connect with a number of individuals and organizations that I had not met until the Community Connections event. Trinity by the Sea's grounds and facilities were top notch. Such a lovely place. It was a very inviting and warm environment," said Anthony Ross with the American Red Cross. 

"There was a ton of networking going on, and the community members were actively trying to seek solutions or partnerships. This was a lot more personable compared to most events I have been to," said Miguel Lopez with Save the Children. 

This Community Connections was the second of several to be held during this year. Each festival is in a different community in the storm-ravaged Coastal Bend area. The first was held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Rockport for the town's residents on March 10. The next Community Connections event is planned for Victoria, Texas, with the date to be determined; more information will become available at www.dwtx.org/events.

Everyone in the Diocese is West Texas is welcome and encouraged to become part of Community Connections and assist our communities in their recovery. For more information, contact Gayle Gottlich at pathfinderggc@earthlink.net.

Photos submitted by Gayle Gottlich.