Catholic Charities To Send Six Employees To Houston To Assist With Hurricane Harvey Recovery
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany is deploying six employees to Houston, Texas, to assist with the storm recovery from Hurricane Harvey. All six employees volunteered for the two week deployment and are leaving on Monday, September 18th. The list includes Bob Boehlert, Peter Catal, Samantha Coluccio, and Alisa Nurminen from Catholic Charities Disabilities Services; and David Gabrielson and Alysabeth VanBramer from Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services.
This deployment comes after a nationwide call for Catholic Charities employees to assist Catholic Charities in Galveston / Houston with the early stages of disaster recovery. Nicknamed the “Albany Angels,” groups of Catholic Charities employees from the Diocese of Albany have deployed to help in this work in many major natural disasters in the past 15 years, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Catholic Charities in Albany has extensive experience in disaster case management, which is the long-term recovery process for those who have been impacted by a major disaster.
“We are so proud of our six employee volunteers going down in the first wave,” said Mary Olsen, Director of Disaster Response. “We have over 18 employees who have volunteered to deploy in future waves.” Ms. Olsen explained that these six people will be canvassing neighborhoods heavily affected by the storm and flooding, talking to people about what they need and getting them entered into a system so they can be able to get assistance. Navigating the federal, state, and local disaster relief and recovery systems can be complex, and these volunteers have experience in these matters.
“Texas is still assessing the damage – these are difficult environments,” Ms. Olsen said. “Long days, mosquitos, and other challenges await them, but our six volunteers are eager to get started to help people rebuild their lives.”
Catholic Charities CEO Vincent W. Colonno wrote to the volunteers expressing his thanks for stepping up for this assignment. “By volunteering for this task, you’ve shown the true heart of Catholic Charities, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way you responded,” he said. “Your example is inspirational to me and to all of our employees of how we pull together when a tragedy like this unfolds…when you meet people [in Texas] who have lost everything, let them know that there are folks up north, and all over the country, who send their love and support.”
The first group of Albany Angels is preparing to leave from the Albany International Airport on a 6:00am flight on Monday, September 18th. You can follow their progress on the blog www.ccalbanydrro.wordpress.com
Catholic Charities USA is coordinating future deployments throughout the fall with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany.
To assist in the disaster, Catholic Charities is also coordinating the local donation efforts on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. Anyone may donate and all proceeds will be sent to storm affected areas damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Online donations can be made immediately at www.ccrcda.org. Anyone wishing to donate may also send a check to:
2017 Hurricane Relief
c/o Development Office
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany
40 North Main Ave
Albany, NY 12203
This emergency collection will be used both to support the humanitarian and long-term recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.