Editor’s Note: Today, REI Co-op CEO and President Jerry Stritzke wrote to employees about the co-op’s response to Hurricane Harvey.
The devastation in Houston is evident, and we’re all glad that employees are safe and accounted for. I also know there’s a lot to do to figure out what’s next as the community assesses the damage. I have no doubt that the resilient people of Houston, and the wider region, will come together to rebuild, and our REI community is doing the same.
As we’ve watched events unfold, we’ve been building a co-op response that will have meaningful impact. We are gathering on-the-ground data in real time and are clear-eyed in understanding that many resources from around the country are descending on the region and we need to be deliberate to complement that work and not complicate it.
Supporting our employees
All employees scheduled to work this week are being paid. Our HR, retail ops and store teams are working together to gather detailed information on each affected employee—understanding their situation and what their individual needs are.
We are evaluating all options to support them—from financial support to providing needed gear and supplies. By the end of next week, we will have a clear plan of action and will be connecting directly with each employee affected. We’ll also let you know if there’s a way you can pitch in.
Once we know specifically what our teammates need, we are also going to put out a call to all stores across the country for gear that fits the need. Our Austin-Gateway store has volunteered to take shipments and will work with the Houston teams to distribute the needed product in the coming weeks.
Supporting the Houston community
We have committed to providing $100,000 in gear needed now to support humanitarian aid for the broader Houston community (cots, towels, etc.). Product donations will be distributed through a trusted partner.
And, once immediate recovery is done, we will help rebuild the region’s recreational infrastructure. We are in touch with local recreation nonprofits about how they might begin the rehabilitation of beloved outdoor recreation areas.
We’ll stay close with government organizations and nonprofits on the ground so we can make sure our support is relevant and useful as the recovery effort continues. It’s hard to know these things in advance, but we expect these total contributions now and into early next year to exceed $200,000.
What you can do
Many of you have asked how you can help right now; below is a list of resources if you are looking for ways to get involved.
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, in partnership with the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
- The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) has launched the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund to support medium- and long-term recovery efforts, which are too often overlooked as the media spotlight fades.
- All Hands Volunteers is a volunteer-powered disaster relief organization dedicated to meeting the immediate and long-term needs of impacted communities. All Hands’ work is the essential next step after the life-saving work of emergency responders.
- GlobalGiving has created a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will initially support first responders and survivors’ immediate needs, and also direct funds to local organizations to provide long-term support and build stronger response capacity.
The Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act was passed in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina to ensure that animals wouldn’t be forgotten when emergency preparations were made. Here are places where you can donate:
Coming together as a co-op
The power of the co-op shines in times like these. I’ve already heard many stories of employees helping each other and the community and employees are connecting on social media and elsewhere to pitch in. It reminds me of why I work here. We’re a strong and supportive community and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Thank you for all you do,