News Story

Texas Strong — Mental Health Counselors Complete Service

American Red Cross requested their assistance following Hurricane Harvey

Within days of one of the worst disasters to hit the United States in more than a decade, the American Red Cross asked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for help. It was help beyond the necessities of life-sustaining food and water that the Church often delivers. The Red Cross needed help to nourish the souls of thousands of hurricane survivors who lost everything.


For the past two weeks, eight disaster mental health care counselors of the Church from Washington, Idaho, Utah and Texas canvassed the greater Houston area to provide that nourishment, healing and hope to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

They visited area shelters where those left homeless were staying in the wake of the major hurricane, which brought record flooding across southeast Texas, damaging around 200,000 homes. Some of the counselors assisted evacuees after they were brought to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, which at the time of the peak of the flooding housed more than 10,000 people.

While there they spent time with “clients” by listening to their situations and providing helpful advice. John Pingree, a Family Services counselor from Boise, Idaho, served many days at the Convention Center and shared his newfound friendship with a woman known as Mama. "It's a blessing to be a part of your life," he told her. She responded, "Like I said, you're family. You'll always be in my heart and on my wall and in my prayers and in my thoughts — always."

In addition, they visited neighborhoods flooded by the hurricane and assessed residents’ well-being by visiting and delivering food, supplies and hot meals. "Seeing that look on their face when I was able to help them just even with one hot meal — it just helped me to feel a lot better about what was going on," said Family Services counselor Matt Law of Houston, Texas.

The counselors were sent to help at the request of the American Red Cross. Gail McGovern, president of the American Red Cross, said, "We're particularly grateful for the Latter-day Saints Church. It's an enormous privilege to work side by side with people who care so deeply and want to help others. Everything we do together is miraculous to me," she said.

"One thing that I've seen is that phrase 'Houston Strong' or 'Texas Strong,'” said Matt. "To me it's just that idea that together we can overcome something as catastrophic as Hurricane Harvey."

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