I was a few miles into a run last week when I felt a pull to head to Blacksburg on September 17th and run my 9th Half Marathon. It was more than a pull to run, though. The call to this race came with images of the tragic flooding scenes I'd seen playing out in Texas. There was only one reason I could be feeling the urge to run while at the same time being overcome with the heartbreak of seeing so many people suffering in such a big way. I was supposed to run this race for Texas.
The first thing I did when I finished my run was reach out to my TwoTim47.com Patreon supporters who support me at the marathon level. When partners sponsor me at this level I agree to run a race for their cause. If I was going to run the Hokie Half for a cause I came up with, I needed to know they supported it. When I reached out to them, not only did every one of them support the idea, they all agreed to contribute to whatever support I decided to offer Texas.
(You can learn more about my TwoTim47.com Patreon platform here.)
That's when I decided what I was going to do. I used $85 of my August Patreon support to register for the Hokie Half. The remaining $108 I will donate to the Harvey Hurricane relief efforts in Texas.
Then came the next challenge. I didn't want to make a generic donation. I wanted to know something about where the money was going. It wasn't just about trusting it would go to a good cause. If I'm going to feel my heart pounding through my chest for 13.1 miles in Blacksburg next week, I'd like my heart to pound when I send off my donation. That can't happen without knowing something about the story on the other end of the donation.
So I reached out to friends on social media. I asked if anyone had any personal stories related to the suffering in Texas. My friend Janice, whom I worked with several years ago in North Carolina, put me in touch with her friend Tom in Texas. He was doing recovery work with his church. Then Tom put me in touch with the pastors at his church.
I was only on the phone with them for a few minutes when I knew their church, St. Andrews, was a story I needed to be a part of. I was sure they were part of the call I felt running last week.
St. Andrews is located in Pearland, Texas, a community within the Houston metropolitan area. They were hard hit by Harvey and are now leaning on churches like St. Andrews to help them rebuild. A rebuild that could take a decade or more.
What drew me to St. Andrews is they've been spending years getting ready for a moment just like this one. They've been building a loving partnership with the Pearland citizens for over 20 years. Father Jim Liberatore said this about his church's relationship with the community:
"Many churches establish themselves by looking inward and taking care of the family but don't necessarily look outward. My understanding of reading scripture and from some people like John Wesley see that we have a mission to the community and I've basically encouraged the congregation over the years to see the walls collapse of the church and that the parish, the church walls, actually become the community, so that we are the pastors of the community, we are lovers of the community."
That's long been the struggle I've had with many churches - their obsession with looking inward. When I decided I wanted to partner with someone to help with hurricane relief in Texas I knew I wanted to partner with an organization that would respond in love and not out of a sense of media fueled obligation. Don't get me wrong, I think we all have an obligation here - that's precisely what led me to look for a way to help - I just think obligations are best and most helpfully met in love.
As you'll see in some of the photos below, St. Andrews has already been hard at work in their community.
How can you help me partner with St. Andrews?
What St. Andrews needs most right now is prayer and money. There will be so much to do in the early stages of the relief - stages which might last years - gutting and repairing homes, helping replace essential items and simply helping people get back to a place where they can get to and from their work.
I want to give a special thank you to my marathon level Patreon supporters who gave me their blessing to use this race for this hurricane relief effort:
Robyn Larkin, Tiffany Eisentrout, Nicole Williams and Rachel Wood - Thank you!
And to the rest of my Patreon supporters who make it possible to enter races and find extra time to write stories and create podcasts and videos - I could do none of it without you all. So thank you Kristie Allen, Lashell Head, Solomon Whitfield, Kelly Anderson, Kimberly Yenser, Kimberly Caldwell, Missy Blacker-Hepp, Jenny Reynolds, Shannon Sala, Donna Shultz-Shegana and Angela Marini.
I ask for everyone's prayers as I tackle my half marathon next weekend and for all the people struggling in Texas, especially those in the St. Andrews community.
Like I said, I will be donating to St. Andrews as part of my Hokie Half Marathon run. If you would like to join me I know they'd be grateful. Maybe you could donate $13 for the 13.1 miles I'll be running in Blacksburg on September 16th. Every dollar will go a long way towards the healing and relief the St. Andrews community will be searching for.
If you donate at the link below, when you enter the giving type enter hurricane relief. In the memo section please enter TwoTim47. This will help us track our TwoTim47 Hokie Half Contributions.
Life is like running.