Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Of Natural Disasters and Charity

Water accumulating quickly at the end of my cul-de-sac.
On Monday afternoon, September 9th, it started raining in Boulder, Colorado.  Tuesday evening, as the non-stop rain picked up speed and started coming down in buckets, I really started worrying about all that water. It doesn't rain much in Colorado, being a semi-arid high-desert region.  I used to complain about the lack of rainfall, because I really enjoy a good thunderstorm and had rarely been treated to one since moving to Boulder 22 years ago.  But I knew this was a lot of rain for an area that doesn't normally get a lot of precipitation.  Had this been Miami, I wouldn't have been overly worried.  But in Colorado, I knew that this much rain, this fast, spelled trouble.

The morning of Thursday, September 12th, we woke up to a disaster area.  It had been raining solid for 3 days straight, and the accumulated water had nowhere to go.  Mountain creeks were over-running their banks, and rushing water was sweeping cars and debris downstream into Boulder county.  Roads collapsed as the ground beneath them was swept away, and standing water made other roads impassable.  But Boulder wasn't the only city affected by the monsoon-like weather.  A 4500-square-mile area across Colorado's Front Range, from Fort Collins to south of Denver, had been hit by the devastating rain and floods.

To put the cherry on the cake, my sister just happened to have a charity fundraising gala scheduled for the evening of September 12th, the very day the 100-year flood was officially proclaimed.  We were making final preparations, loading up cars, and needed to get 40 miles south to the Cherry Creek Yacht Club and Marina in the middle of a natural disaster!

About a year earlier, my sister Ana had started a nonprofit organization called the Healing Warriors Program.  The nonprofit is dedicated to providing complementary care services and treatments for active duty military, veterans and their families.  They have opened one clinic so far in Fort Collins, Colorado, offering Acupuncture, Massage, CranioSacral therapy, and Healing Touch treatments to address pain, PTSD, and other ailments that soldiers and their families deal with upon returning home.  It's a worthy organization doing good work for our service men and women and their families.

September 12th was the night chosen for their biggest fundraising gala, "An Evening on the Water," and had been selected many, many months earlier.  It also happened to be the worst day of the biggest deluge in Colorado's history.  What timing!

The phone calls started pouring in, "Is the gala still on?"  The Yacht Club was still committed to the event, despite the fact that part of their kitchen's roof had caved in.  They were going to "make it happen" no matter what.  Ana was still baking up a bevy of sweets for the dessert table, and the volunteers were already on their way to decorate the hall for the evening.  Yes, the gala was still on!

It took us almost 3 hours to get there, navigating around closed and inundated streets, accidents, and the ever-accumulating water, but we made it in time to set up a beautiful dessert table, a silent auction, and change out of our soaking-wet clothing just in time for the gala.  It never stopped raining.  But people came anyway, trickling in as quickly as they could make it ... more than I ever would have guessed.  Before long, the hall was full of people.

Despite the constant rain and flooding, folks showed up to support the organization's work for our troops and their families.  The yacht club provided fabulous food and appetizers, the silent auction went off without a hitch, and people were very generous with their donations.  The gala was a big success, after all, and everyone had a great time despite the chaos outside.  (And the dessert table was a big hit, too!)

A man in uniform perusing the dessert spread.
All associated with the Healing Warriors Program send out a heartfelt thank you to all of those who came out to the charity gala in the unrelenting rain and flooding to support an organization whose only mission is to help the men and women who sacrifice so much for us.  Deep gratitude to the volunteers, the workers and the yacht club who made it happen.  We certainly hope to see you all again next year in surely much better weather!!

For more information on the Healing Warriors Program:

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