Houston Ground Angels
Tony Castiglie, Vice President and Treasurer
With the joyous occasions of Easter and Passover behind us, we now advance into the Summer season. It is always nice to enjoy both Houston’s Spring and Fall seasons, although for most of us, they are much too short.
April was another successful month; the 328 missions run was by far the best April ever and the first April in which we ran over 300 missions. This year’s daily average is 10, something we have never achieved. Forty-eight volunteers stepped up to make this happen with Uber helping us fulfill the difficult missions, i.e. rush hour traffic, late evening runs or short notice requests. As a result, our forecast for 2019 has been increased to 3,400 missions, the most ever.
Thus far, we have run 1,156 missions, 55% of which are run by the Archangels. While we appreciate every volunteer who runs a mission, the Archangels are the real reason for our success. Who are they:
Top 10 Volunteers – 2019
2. Sandra Begalke
3. Charles Whitworth
4. Tony LaRosa
5. David LaFargue
7. Jacko Garrett
8. Derek King
9. Bo Hunter
One of our Archangels has reached another milestone. Sandra Begalke has been a volunteer since 2014 and has just logged over 1,000 missions. Sandra is someone very special and she justly deserves a huge debt of gratitude.
A Brief History
Houston Ground Angels was founded in 2000 by Kathy Broussard, who offered to use her small private plane to transport a medical patient from West Texas to Houston. The patient initially declined because she could not afford taxi fare from the airport to the medical center. Kathy solved that problem by volunteering to drive here there. Kathy then ran an ad in the Houston Chronicle seeking volunteers and Houston Ground Angels was formed. Initially, we were part of Angel Flight but when a substantial number of requests for our services were coming from patients leaving and arriving from the two major airports, Houston Ground Angels incorporated as a separate non-profit organization in 2005. Kathy remains an active volunteer to this day.
In our 14-year history, we have had 448 volunteers run over 27,000 missions. Some volunteers become very dedicated while others run one or two and decide to volunteer elsewhere. Recruitment has always been a challenge and as we have become more well known, requests for our service began to increase dramatically to a point where we could no longer satisfy all of them. If we were to continue in our mission of providing complimentary transportation to medical patients coming into Houston for treatment, we needed to come up with other ideas.
Thus far, Uber seems to be working out well. In 2018, we had 599 unfilled missions; thus far in 2019, the number is 24. The intent is to use Uber only as a last resort when a mission was not chosen by a volunteer. Mission Coordinator Mary Hutto does not contact Uber until the night before a mission is to be run. Thus far in 2019, Uber has satisfied 345 missions, about 29 percent of total, missions that would have gone unfilled. The feedback from patients has been highly favorable. But no matter how effective Uber may be, an Uber driver will never offer the compassion and support our volunteers provide to patients.
April 11, 2019
We appreciate your services so much.
Tom & Nelda
West Monroe, LA
(Donation - $50.00)
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.
As always, to every volunteer who steps up, thanks for your contribution. 2019 is looking good!