Collective Greatness

SBEF Harvey Relief Fund Hits $1 Million Mark

A modest idea blossoms into help for more than 1,000 Spring Branch ISD families
 

When Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Scott Muri began assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, he found more than he ever expected.
 
Surprisingly, the SBISD buildings suffered very little damage; however, SBISD staff and student families told a different story.It was a story of resilience. He talked with staff members who had seemingly lost everything—home, cars, possessions—but showed concern for how he and others weathered the storm. He heard from student families who were displaced and sheltering out of district, but making travel arrangements to keep their children in their home schools.

For every story he heard, he knew there were many more. He felt that by working with the district’s leadership team and the Spring Branch Education Foundation, the community could help.

While the water was still high and first responders were still housed at the district’s Darrell Tully Stadium, he explored the idea of a relief fund. He approached SBEF Executive Director Cece Thompson and challenged the Foundation to raise $20,000. Thompson and the SBEF board of directors created the SBEF Harvey Relief Fund.

Three months later, the Fund had collected $1,027,536 and was helping 1,083 SBISD families.

“When the Spring Branch Education Foundation launched the Harvey Relief Fund,” Muri said, “we could never have imagined how swiftly and how generously our community and many others across the globe would respond. With more than $1 million raised, families of more than 1,000 SBISD students and employees have received much-needed resources and support. We are grateful beyond measure to SBEF and the many donors whose #CollectiveGreatness has made this critical financial assistance possible at this unprecedented time of great need.”

“I’ve always known the generosity of this community,” Thompson said. “For more than two decades, it has funded grants and scholarships that enhance education for SBISD students. The outpouring of support in the wake of Harvey, surpassed anything I would have imagined. A community member called to say her family wanted to donate $100,000, and that was just the first of our surprises.”

Donations came from near and far. SBISD students got busy: Memorial Markettes shared proceeds from its fall fundraiser, and Cornerstone Academy pledged funds from its December fun run. The Wilchester Men’s Club contributed $9,000. Waterous Energy Fund, a Canadian company with an SBISD parent on its executive team, donated $100,000. 

Gifts arrived from Muri’s former colleagues and acquaintances—and from strangers who saw his Twitter appeal. The Discovery Channel donated $25,000. A Kentucky native who met Muri at her daughter’s church sent $500. The Fund received gifts from student fundraisers from schools as far away as Pittsburgh, PA; Avon, IN; and Barrington, IL.

The largest gift came from the Greater Houston Community Foundation to the tune of $500,000. SBEF was one of only three education organizations to receive a grant from GHCF’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

“The grant felt like an affirmation of our efforts,” Thompson said. “As far as we know, the SBEF Harvey Relief Fund is the only one that specifically helps families in Spring Branch ISD. Our gifts help families fill gaps not met by other local and federal efforts. Since the Fund is managed by SBEF staff, there are no administrative costs. Every dollar goes directly to SBISD student and staff families.”

SBISD staff members who were displaced by Harvey and are receiving help from the SBEF Harvey Relief Fund are grateful. Thank you notes have poured in to the SBEF office.

From an employee, “I was just called to the front office to pick up some ‘mail,’ and I received the generous donation from SBEF. All I could do was laugh and then cry. We literally lost everything in the flood and have two small babies at home. What a perfect time to receive this gift/blessing. I’m so blessed to work for this district and want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is a huge undertaking on your part, and I know it’s probably been a very difficult task. You have no idea how much this means to my family and how far this will go for us. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I PROMISE to continue to pay this forward once we get back on our feet. Thank you so much.”

A parent wrote, “Thank you so much for providing the very generous Target gift card for our family. We have two boys…a freshman and a senior, and we feel so fortunate to have such a supportive school district. Having our downstairs destroyed by five feet of water for two weeks, losing all our cars and being displaced has been so very hard for us. I know there are many other families in the same situation as well. As a parent, the hardest thing has been that my senior will not be able to celebrate this Christmas (the one before he goes to college next year) in our family home. That is heart breaking. A big thank you for reaching out to us and providing support, as this is a long, tiring process! We will always remember your kindness.”

SBEF has distributed Target and Walmart gift cards to help families meet their most pressing needs, whether it’s food, clothing or supplies. The Foundation has awarded grants of $50,000 to Community In Schools – Houston (CIS), which identifies specific needs. CIS provides vouchers to families to assist with rent, utilities and other necessities. 

Hurricane Harvey dumped 51 inches of rain on Houston, but the SBEF Harvey Relief Fund, which started with a dream, is an example of the community’s support and resilience. 

A note sent to SBEF: “I have been an SBISD teacher for 37 years and have always felt supported and respected in my professional career. After losing my home, contents and cars to Hurricane Harvey, I have been overwhelmed by love and support in my personal life.”

A parent wrote about her family’s rescue via boat. “In the days that followed, so many kind friends, colleagues and good Samaritans…like you came forward to help us…. We want you to know you will forever be a part of our family and thank you so much for your kindness and love.”

Community members who wish to donate to the SBEF Harvey Relief Fund may visit: www.springbrancheducationfoundation.com


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