Hope Heroes Help Hurricane Dorian Survivors

If you have a good memory, you may remember me writing about Ryan Gergan and how he and his wife started Hope Heroes after Hurricane Harvey back in 2017. I decided to check in with Ryan to find out how he’s responding to Hurricane Dorian.

Before that though, and in case you don’t feel like reading further:

Donations Hope Heroes needs for Dorian victims:

  • Medical supplies: particularly lifesaving supplies for diabetics
  • Monetary donations
  • Non-perishable food
  • Water
  • Clothing
  • Diapers

[tweetthis]“We aim to lift victims up from their emergencies and guide them through the recovery process from start to finish,” [/tweetthis]

To find out how to donate, please visit TheHopeHeroes.org.

A Quick Refresher:

When Hurricane Harvey hit, 32 year-old Ryan Gergan wanted to help.  But what could he do, living in the mostly rural northern Illinois county juggling a new family and a demanding career with a grueling commute. He and his wife. Samantha, couldn’t sit by and do nothing, so he started what he thought would be a one-time effort to help people who were falling between the cracks of other outreach efforts.

Then the Las Vegas shooting massacre , Mexico City earthquakes, the catastrophic California wildfires, the First Baptist Church shooting, and hurricane Maria followed in quick succession. Ryan’s one-time fund-raiser became Hope Heroes, a NFP that aid in recovery efforts that directly benefit disaster and crisis victims.  

For more on how Ryan got Hope Heroes off the ground, go to my first post: https://www.theblacktortoise.com/hope-heroes/

Two years later, Ryan narrowed Hope Heroes’ focus and its reach.

Today Ryan’s newborn daughter, McKenzie, is keeping him hopping, while three-year-old, Audrey “helps” her mom, Samantha. Ryan still balances his full-time job as Director of IT, and Hope Heroes now has three employees bringing relief efforts for the most recent disaster, Hurricane Dorian.

Yesterday, Ryan took some time to update me on Hope Heroe’s Action Plan.

[tweetthis]Ryan learned early on, the most effective way to bring relief is to partner with other Not For Profit organizations[/tweetthis]

Dorian is similar to last year’s Hurricane Michael.  “The beaches were destroyed and there was pretty much nothing left.”  Besides the physical loss, there’s a psychological loss for the people. “When Hurricane Michael hit Florida, we went through 8 pallets of cereal and delivered 1000 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners.”  When the media stopped covering the storm, many people still didn’t have water.  The wells did not work because there was no electricity.  Hope Heroes worked with Catholic Charities to provide a 5-bay shower.  After going without for 30 days, people finally had a chance to shower.

Hope Heroes partners with Good Samaritan Shipping Ministries (GSSMA.) They sent a small ship with 140,000 pounds of goods to the Bahamas today. The ship allows them to feed 300-500 people off the boat in a day. “A family with three kids live on the ship. That’s all they do is ship goods for disaster relief. ” The ship is a retrofitted oil drill equipment barge. It can hold four 40-foot shipping containers (equivalent to four train cars.)

Ryan also partners with AFYA Foundation to distribute medical supplies. A physician on board helps distribute the supplies and attends to medical needs. Hope Heroes pays particular attention to the needs of the disabled and the elderly. For Hurricane Florence they were the only organization in the five-county area of North Carolina to provide live-saving diabetic supplies. Wheel chairs, ramps, walkers, etc. are essential for many of the victims.

I wondered what has changed in the two years since Ryan founded Hope Heroes.

“We’re getting better at handling the donations and working with other non-profits.” This year they will take in close to $1,000,000 in donated goods, services, and money. They are committed to delivering $0.92 of each dollar, but this year they are closer to $0.95. “By partnering with other organizations we can do with $3,000 what it would typically take $15,000.”

Hope Heroes still uses warehouse space at Grace and Peace church in Chicago. After Hurricane Maria, they ended up with 100 pallets of clothing that didn’t for the island of Puerto Rico because they were not appropriate to the climate. So those jackets and coats went to Pittsburg and New York where the evacuees needed them. In this way, the Hurricane Maria victims still benefited. “We trade supplies with other non-profits, so they go where they are needed.”

Although Hope Heroes has focused a lot of energy on Hurricane disaster relief, Ryan pays attention to other disasters, too. They have helped families affected by the California wildfires and tornado victims in Alabama. Hope Heroes provided $20,000 worth of “shelter pods,” long term tents that provide shelter for a family of five.

Read more about Hope Heroes here.

If you’d like to donate to Hope Heroes or just follow what they’re doing, here’s a link to their Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/HopeHeroesNFP/