Recently, we sent out our winter fundraising letter, which announced our goal to provide as many families as we had resources for materials to build out a “livable space”. We defined a livable space as a 15×20 room, a kitchen and a bathroom and provided a nice neat table for our donors of the cost of materials:

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However, over the past two weeks we’ve discovered during our work with different families, a livable space can mean different things for different families. We all had a “oh, duh!” moment. How can we expect to define what a livable space for families of different sizes and health requirements means?

Since West Street Recovery’s start, we’ve wanted to be cautious of providing prescriptive solutions to someone else’s problems. We continue to find that the people struggling from Harvey’s aftermath are the experts on what they need to overcome those struggles. One of the primary ways we feel charities fail in their services to folks is how rigid their services need to be to meet their agenda. But we’re discovering that the more we solicit donations, the more tempting it is to tailor our work into nice neat solutions.

While West Street Recovery can’t make promises about how much we plan to spend on each home and how many homes we can provide a “livable space” for, we can promise that we’re working closely with families through their recovery processes to discover the priorities for where material, time and financial resources should be focused. Our goal is to get as many people comfortably back in their homes as possible and this is going to mean different things for the family of 6 with toddlers than the single elderly person with health complications.

We encourage everyone involved in recovery efforts to stay flexible to residents’ ever-changing needs, meet folks with where they’re at, and don’t require people to assume helpless positions before offering a hand.

For more details about our winter fundraising effort and to make a contribution, check out our letter.