Generosity in the storm
January 1, 2019
Two feet of rain fell in the first 24 hours.
One third of Houston was underwater.
75 schools closed.
39,000 people were forced into shelters.
203,000 homes were damaged.
We know the name well. Most of us were glued to the news the entire time this hurricane was raging, and we held out hope our neighbors would be alright. It was difficult to imagine that amount of rain colliding with a city we loved in such a short period of time. For those who lived in Houston, it was still difficult to imagine.
“We were so lucky. There was a moment during the flooding when we thought water near us was rising, so we started packing things like photos and taking them to the second story, but the water never came into our home. I cannot imagine the water streaming into your house or having to get onto a boat to evacuate your home, but this is what happened to people all around us,” Carlos and Griseida Garcia recalled several months after the storm.
With so many of their friends, neighbors, and colleagues in need around the city, Harvey became an opportunity for the Garcias to extend God’s love. “It all happened so quickly for people. You really could not take anything with you when you were evacuating, and you were evacuated to a place that was dry, but you did not know where that would be. It could be weeks before you could go back to your house, so we opened our home to others,” Carlos said.
In the aftermath of the storm, the Garcias provided a home for two families. “We felt like our house might have been spared, so we could take in others and make them feel comfortable, like they were family,” Griseida shared.
And the Garcia’s generosity did not end there. They wanted to make a financial gift as well. After careful consideration, the Garcias made a gift to TMF’s Grant Ministry to support Harvey Relief.
A friend from Sunday School and an area representative for TMF, Leah Taylor, had invited the Garcias to learn more about TMF’s work in Texas and New Mexico. As faithful Methodists, they already knew the church used donations effectively and were impressed with their initial impressions of TMF.
When TMF added Harvey Relief to their grant work, the Garcias knew they wanted to make a donation. However, they wanted to ensure their donation would make the biggest impact possible, so they gave to TMF using a matching gift.
“Shell has always had matching gifts for employees, so I leveraged that option to make a difference,” Carlos shared. In fact, Shell matched their gift 2:1!
While generosity is a value many of us must work to incorporate in our lives more regularly, giving comes naturally to the Garcias because it is a family tradition.
Carlos’ father was born in Cuba, but not long after becoming a doctor he left for Puerto Rico. They needed physicians at their government hospitals during the Korean War, so he set out to make a difference. He left thinking he would return to Cuba soon. Nevertheless, he took his letter of membership in the United Methodist Church with him, so he could be a faithful member in his new home. Once there, he met his wife and decided to stay. As his family grew, he made sure to pass his love for the church onto his children.
“My dad always gave us money for Sunday School and church when we were kids. Giving was important to him and he made sure we knew it was important, too. Church was not only at the top of his budget, it was also at the top of his priority list; he made sure he gave his money and his time,” Carlos said, remembering the legacy his father imprinted on their family.
Griseida agreed, noting that her father-in-law had shaped her husband’s faithfulness, which encouraged her to become more involved in their local church, missions, and United Methodist Women. “Carlos had an impact on me, because he was so involved in church and I found as I was more involved, my love for missions increased. I learned how important it is to give your time and your money,” Griseida shared.
His father’s legacy left such an indelible influence that it is now a family tradition the Garcias wholeheartedly embrace, and TMF is thankful to share in the fruit of that legacy.
Generous donations like the Garcia’s, coupled with TMF funds, enabled the Grants Ministry to award $302,000 to 14 churches and not-for-profits to assist with relief and recovery needs. To find out more about how you can contribute to TMF’s Grants Ministry or Harvey recovery efforts, call or email Justin Gould at 800-933-5502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.