This weekend, I watched in horror as Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines with an intensity 3.5 times more powerful than Hurricane Katrina, killing thousands of people and leaving more than half a million others homeless. The storm was unprecedented, and today, news reports describe an emerging public health crisis as survivors are forced to live in unsanitary conditions and drink contaminated water. Meanwhile, food and medical supplies are scarce.
Although the damage that Hurricane Ike inflicted on Galveston Island and the surrounding area was but a fraction of the devastation faced in the Philippines, many residents of the island did experience the destruction of their homes, saw their entire lives turned upside down, and in some cases lost friends and family members. I believe there is a great deal of empathy among us for those in the Philippines, as we reflect on our own experiences with disaster.
Perhaps the people of the Philippines will soon see a glimmer of hope amid the destruction. I thought of this as I read the story of a 21-year-old woman who swam through deep water, clinging to floating logs to save herself and her unborn child. Thankfully, she made it to the airport where medical personnel and volunteers had created a makeshift hospital. In the midst of all of this chaos and ruin, the young woman gave birth to a healthy baby.
In times of catastrophe, many of us ask what we can do. How can we help? How can we make a difference? Years ago, I decided that my contributions to the State Employees Charitable Campaign (SECC) were a small way I could offer my help.
I look forward to this campaign each year—I have an opportunity to review numerous charitable organizations that conduct very important work in communities both at home and around the globe, and then choose which will benefit from my contribution over the next twelve months.
In the past, my ability to give was much less than it is now; however, I believe it is not the amount we give, but more importantly, the fact that we have given. So today, I encourage each of you to give to the SECC.
Giving is easy, but the deadline is fast approaching! We can make a one-time contribution via cash, check or online, or we can make a pledge by payroll deduction (monthly or a single gift). No amount is too small! Please visit the SECC website at http://www.utmb.edu/secc to begin the process of making your donation today. Let’s see if the Health System can reach 100% participation!
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan