State Council News

Knights aid those devastated by Hurricane Harvey

Posted Oct 06, 2017
by Mark

When the St. Charles Borromeo Knights of Columbus Council 13238 in Tacoma, Washington learned about the catastrophic hurricane that hit the Coastal Bend area of Texas on Aug. 25, they did not hesitate to swing into action.

Within hours, leaders with the Tacoma Knights of Columbus had mobilized to gather cash donations from their generous parishioners so they could purchase items most in need by the communities in South Texas hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey. 

Robstown Knights of Columbus Council # 3110 fed Refugio evacuees at the Tuloso Midway Red Cross FEMA dome, in Annaville. From left are, Alfredo Garcia, Grand Knight Edward Mireles, Joe Verastegui, Alfredo Castaneda, Mike Cano, Father Mark Whelan, SOLT and  Johnny Esquivel Jr.

“We wanted to ensure our donations got to those in need quickly,” said Deacon Mark Shine, with St. Charles Borromeo Parish. “We wanted to supply donations that were exactly what they needed. There was little overhead, so our funds went entirely to the benefit of those in need.” 

Deacon Shine and fellow parishioner Harry Phillips flew to Dallas, where they purchased the items needed. The plan was to drive the items down themselves, but first, they checked with locals to ensure useful items were being purchased. 

“It was important that the local Knights of Columbus councils in Texas help us understand what was not needed.  For example, our list started with four pallets of water and by the time we got to Dallas, other relief agencies had delivered plenty of water.  Likewise, clothing was not needed, other than fresh socks,” he said. 

Items specific to the cleanup effort were purchased, including: mosquito repellent, sunscreen, bleach, surgical masks, gloves, pallets of toilet paper, paper towels, personal hygiene products, feminine hygiene products, dog and cat food, diapers in many sizes, baby formula and treats for children. 

Grand Knight Reyes L. Resendez of Refugio Council # 1651 at St. James Parish, unloads box from trailers of supplies brought from Roma, Texas. Also pictured is Rosevel “Ross” Pruneda from Roma Council # 3367, as well as several law enforcement personnel  that helped deliver these supplies from Starr County.

The supplies where distributed to those in need in Refugio and the surrounding area.

Every Knights of Columbus region around the world has an Emergency Response Team and according to Ron Alonzo, Texas State Council and Charity Director for the Knights and a member of Council #1202 at St. Patrick Parish in Corpus Christi, his region had been preparing for an event like this one. 

“One of the things we as Knights do best is organize. We come together in times of need,” he said. “As soon as the hurricane had cleared, we called a meeting of the 52 councils in our diocese. We started planning specific areas we could assist, including providing water, food and shelter.” 

The Diocese of Corpus Christi includes 4,000 Knights of Columbus members. In the state of Texas, there are more than 100,000 Knights. Worldwide, there are 1.9 million Knights of Columbus. It is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal men’s organization. 

Within days of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Knights of Columbus councils from Corpus Christi, Beeville, Alice, San Antonio, Wimberley, the Rio Grande Valley and other communities began serving citizens of Annaville, Woodsboro, Tivoli, Ingleside, Austwell, Refugio, Ingleside and Rockport. 
“In the first four days after the hurricane, we served meals to 8,000 people,” Alonzo said. “A lot of that food was donated. We also received funds from our national Knights of Columbus organization. Brother Knights from across the country and across the world, contributed funds to help us provide hot meals for a one-day event in Ingleside and in Refugio, we served 4,000 people at just one event alone.” 

Alonzo said he continues to receive trailer loads of supplies from all over the country. 

“When the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) deemed Rockport residents needed to evacuate from the hurricane, displaced residents were sent to Carrizo Springs. Our Knights of Columbus Council #8142 in Carrizo Springs, out of the Laredo Diocese, fed those residents, regardless of their faith,” he said. 

Being part of something that gives back to the community inspires Alonzo, reenergizing him for the work yet to be done. 

“By volunteering their time, my brother Knights are spending time away from their families and their jobs. I’m extremely proud of the dedication of these men, including some wives. It has been a family project for many,” he said. 
Joseph Hernandez, General Agent and Chapter President for the Knights of Columbus Council #11567 at St. Pius X Parish in Corpus Christi, said Knights never work alone. 

“Between Ron Alonzo and myself, we set everything in motion, encouraging our members, supporting our councils, providing guidance and helping in whatever capacity they needed us,” he said. “It was these men, from all of the local councils and those councils outside of our diocese that made it happen.” 
Hernandez said the inspirational stories that have arisen out of this tragedy have been impactful. 

“Our Grand Knight in Refugio lost his home due to the hurricane. Despite his personal tragedy, he went to work in his community, ensuring people were fed and received much needed supplies,” he said. 

Tirelessly moving supplies to affected communities throughout the Coastal Bend, he never once complained about his own personal loss, but instead saw his community was in need and put their needs first. 

“He thanked God he was okay and had his family,” Hernandez said. “As he told me, ‘I have people I can stay with, how many don’t? How many don’t know where their next meal will come from?’” 

Deacon Shine from Tacoma sums up how his Catholic faith reinforces the brotherhood of all people, no matter geographic distance or political backgrounds: everyone deserves a helping hand. 

“The Christian community is at its best when it sets aside ecumenical boundaries and collaborates to be the presence of the Risen One to those in need. You can count on the Knights of Columbus for anything you need. They will rally. When the Church needs something done, call the Knights,” he said proudly.   

Article courtesy South Texas Catholic

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