Houston Ground Angels
Tony Castiglie, Vice President and Treasurer
Following news media reports around mid-July about the heat wave gripping the Northeast, Midwest and Central U.S., my first reaction was a bit of a chuckle. What those folks experienced for a few days was a typical Houston summer that lasts almost five months. But once I realized a lot of the homes and small businesses in that part of the country are not air conditioned, it did not seem so funny. Thus far, our summer has been tolerable, and we received a nice respite when that rare “cold front” came through Houston for a few days. Now, we enter into August, usually the hottest month of the year. Even though heat and humidity are uncomfortable, there is no need to shovel it the way you do snow in winter.
July was another successful month; the 343 missions ran was by far the best July ever and far exceeding the previous record of 270 back in 2015. This year’s daily average is 10, something we had never before achieved. Sixty-two volunteers stepped up to make this happen with Uber helping us fulfill the difficult missions, e.g. rush hour traffic, late evening runs or short notice requests. As a result, our forecast for 2019 now is up to 3,600 missions, the most ever.
Thus far, we have run 2,114 missions, 49 percent of which are run by the Archangels, our top 10 volunteers. They are:
Top 10 Volunteers – 2019
Bo Hunter 45
Charles Gibson 31
We are deeply appreciative for the dedication of all our volunteers, but take special note of Dick Stabell. Through July, there are 212 days meaning Dick has averaged more than one mission a day. Really special!
The real success of this organization has always been those select few who run lots of missions, some who have been with us for many years and have chalked up big numbers. Beginning this month, their accumulative contributions will be acknowledged.
All Time and Still Active
Charles Whitworth 1,651
Sandra Begalke 1,076
Charles Gibson 814
Dick Stabell 615
Thus far, Uber is still working out well. In 2018, we had 599 unfulfilled missions; thus far in 2019, the number is 26 and just two in the past five months. The intent is to use Uber only as a last resort when a mission was not chosen by a volunteer. Remember, Mission Coordinator Mary Hutto does not contact Uber until the night before a mission is to be run so it is best for the volunteers to avoid waiting until the last minute to check out “Open Missions.” Volunteers are certainly more preferable than Uber.
Thus far in 2019, Uber has satisfied 759 missions, about 36 percent of the total missions that would have gone unfilled. The huge number is due primarily to the increase in patient requests for our services. The feedback from patients has been highly favorable; many of them impressed that we are covering the Uber cost when a volunteer is unavailable. However, the downside is the cost. While the organization has applied for quite a few grants, they will not be awarded until later in the year.
Mission Management System
We are also working on some improvements to our Mission Management System. The fellow who originally designed and maintained the system passed away several years ago and it left us in a difficult position. A group from Insperity has recently volunteered their services and we hope to get on top of it again. The volunteers will be kept abreast of the project’s status.
July was an excellent month for recruiting; we had seven new volunteers join us. Eryka Matias (Spring), Ashley Fulton (Cypress), Gerry Rein (Medical Center), Ronald Matson (Katy), Carmen Eggleston (Bellaire), Bridgit Pfister (Spring) and Betsy Gillis (Kingwood). Welcome aboard and thank you for joining. You will find this a very rewarding experience.
As always, to every volunteer who steps up, thanks for your contribution, 2019 is looking good!