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. He has a wife, a 18 month-old daughter, and he’s the Director of IT, a demanding job with a grueling commute. Still, he 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 NPO that aid in recovery efforts that directly benefit disaster and crisis victims.
[tweetthis]“We aim to lift victims up from their emergencies and guide them through the recovery process from start to finish,” [/tweetthis]Ryan told me when I interviewed him for the McHenry Chronicle.
Ryan explained to me how he garnered his social media prowess to bring together Warrior Angels and Carnegie Mellon University Student’s Humanitarian Mission to Puerto Rico, to charter a MD-83 airliner jet to take 30,000 pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico and return with 130 people whose medical needs or disabilities prevent them from flying to the mainland without special accommodations or medical support.
Ryan also got endorsement from NPR and a $10,000 grant from Google. He tried to explain how he did it using Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, and Zoom. I understand and I use those, too, but to tell the truth, it was kind of like be trying to explain microbiology to a two-year-old. Well, maybe a five-year-old. I understood just enough to be awed and amazed.
Ryan partners with universities for statistical analysis to decide where and what the needs are. That way the most appropriate supplies get to the right place in a timely manner. Funds are raised by word of mouth and social networking. The board of Hope Heroes meets virtually.
“On-line is how Millennials experience the world,” he told me.
I love the thoughtful way Hope Heroes is filling the needs of those in need. For example, Hope Heroes got a Habitat for Humanity contractor to build wheelchair ramps for the shooting victims who will be returning home from the hospital in wheelchairs. Ryan’s goal, “Our organization directly funds the needs of victims. We can fill a void that the other charities cannot.”
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/