Harvey-displaced family gets help with home repairs, medical bills
More than 15 months after Hurricane Harvey, the Griffith family is still unable to live in their home.
The Griffiths received a heavy load following the storm. After the family lost their house to flooding, their farm-to-table restaurant Season’s Harvest closed temporarily. Even after reopening, they are still struggling to regain business. The mother, Joanne Griffith, was diagnosed with cancer soon after the storm.
“With all of those things, the money runs out,” said Beket Griffith, owner of Season’s Harvest and father of the Griffith family. “We had kind of gotten to that point that we were just kind of at the end. We had used whatever resources we had; we used whatever resources had been made available to us.”
Over a year later, the Griffith family is gaining stability thanks to help from several local philanthropic organizations. Champions Sunrise Rotary Club, Northwest Assistance Ministries, Habitat for Humanity Bryan/College Station and Hope Disaster Recovery all collaborated to provide the family with resources, including financial assistance, labor, and rebuilding efforts.
Laura Brittan, disaster case manager for Hope, said she received the Griffith family’s case after a referral from another member.
“It was through someone that’s associated with our organization that also enjoys their restaurant,” she said. “(They) knew their need and so he reached out to us so that’s how we got connected. I was the blessed one to get the case.”
Since connecting, Brittan and Hope have brought in NAM to help the family due to the partnership between the organizations.
NAM provided financial assistance, said Marcus Ferdinand, with disaster relief for NAM. NAM aided in paying for several financial burdens, including repairing the space that Beket and Joanne Griffith use to homeschool their five children. Hope donated school supplies for the children. Currently, the family is living in trailers on the Season’s Harvest property.
“Throughout the past few months, our team has worked with [Hope] to further provide assistance, like financial assistance, for clients that they’ve identified,” Ferdinand said. “We were able to give them some relief by paying mortgage and by getting some of those supplies that they lost repaired.”
Phil Graiff, president of the Champions Sunrise Rotary Club, a branch of a national humanitarian organization, said CSRC got involved after NAM gave them the chance to help the Griffiths. As a group, CSRC did yard work for the family on Nov. 30, including cutting branches and raking leaves.
The organization also made a donation of $3,086.76 to the family for Joanne Griffith’s medical bills, Graiff said.
“We reached out to NAM and they helped us identify the family,” he said. “The $1,500 turned into $3,000 and we were able to do that and then we just back it with a service project like this.”
Habitat for Humanity Bryan/College Station aided the Griffiths by awarding them a grant to have volunteers rebuild their home, Brittan said. Although the work is slow due to only being conducted on the weekend, Beket Griffith said he is relieved to have the work being done.
“Habitat was hoping to get more bodies together but it’s tough,” he said. “I get it. It’s been over a year. It’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, it’s out of people’s hearts and it’s just kind of human nature, so it gets hard to get people motivated the further you get away from it.”
Courtney Frost, community relations coordinator for NAM, said the help from other organizations has been a boon for both NAM and the Griffith family.
“They’ve been a wonderful partner and we’re excited to have them come out and serve as volunteers,” she said. “They’re just wanting to come out and be neighbors and help their neighbors. It’s a lot of yard work and upkeep to be able to help this family.”
The Griffith family is expected to be back in their rebuilt home by the end of the year, Beket Griffith said.
“Now we’re really close,” he said. “It looks like a house. We should be in really soon. All the pieces are coming together. The wife’s been getting good test results back. She’s not feeling great, but her test results are looking good so it’s encouraging to her. Everything is kind of moving the right direction and we’re excited.”