Houston Ground Angels
Tony Castiglie, Vice President and Treasurer
Winter has finally ended and Spring has arrived in full force. How do I know? There seems to be about 100 tons of pollen everywhere I go. Once the rain washes most of it away, we can enjoy the mild weather until Summer makes its entry full force along about mid-May.
For Houston Ground Angels, March was another successful month; the 319 missions run was by far the best March ever. This year’s daily average is 9, something we have never before achieved. Forty-six 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 3,300 missions, the most ever.
As always, the Archangels step up and they are the primary reason for our early success. Who are they:
Top 10 Volunteers – 2019
1. Dick Stabell
2. Sandra Begalke
3. Charles Whitworth 73
4. Tony LaRosa 46
5. David LaFargue
6. Laurie Galland
7. Jacko Garrett
8. Bo Hunter 22
9. Derek King
10. Charles Gibson
We have a few Archangels who will be hitting some milestones this month and they will be announced in next month’s Management Review. I’m always amazed at the dedication of some volunteers and it makes them very special.
Volunteers have always been the heart and soul of Houston Ground Angels and without them, we could not function. From the organization’s inception, recruiting volunteers has been an agenda topic at every board meeting. For over 10 years, we have tried every approach we know to recruit additional volunteers, but our success has been minimal at best. We have given presentations to church groups, retirement groups, Rotary Clubs, Knights of Columbus, etc. but these organization see us more as competitors; i.e. they are looking for volunteers for their own organizations. We have run special interest stories and ads in numerous media outlets, including newspapers, magazines, etc. We have given presentations to M.D. Anderson staff and for all of this, our recruiting success has been poor. Yet requests for services keep increasing, primarily because word about HGA is out. It had gotten to a point where our “Unfulfilled Missions” was at 18%, far exceeding our stated goal of 5%. We needed something.
I once saw a CBS news story about a program in Memphis, TN called Chemo Cars. Their mission was to transport local patients to local hospitals in and around town and Uber was the way it was done. Thus began our research into the concept.
After several months of research and testing by Board Member Martha Harrer, we launched the project. The intent was 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 234 missions, about 28% of the total missions. These are 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. Any doubt?
Dear Houston Ground Angels,
On March 7
, Jacko Garrett picked me up at Hobby and took me to the Rotary House. Following my last appointment on the 8
, David LaFargue picked me up and returned me to Hobby. Both men were gracious, courteous and a pleasure to visit with. I am so grateful for their service and to all of you Ground Angels. Your service is such a blessing.
God bless you,
Dear Houston Ground Angels,
I can’t begin to tell you what a blessing you are in my life. The love and dedication you have for helping others is deeply touching. I have met and continue to meet the most amazing people through your organization. It is such a pleasure to know all of those whom I have met. Thank you for your time, love and energy. God bless you and your families richly.
Ocean Ridge, FL
How do we pay for Uber? Houston Ground Angels is an IRS certified 501(c)(3) organization and as such, tax exempt. We satisfy requirements of charitable foundations and have been fortunate to receive some grants. This has always been our primary source of funding. Obviously, Uber is an expense and we will require additional funding to keep going with Uber. We will see how it goes.
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.
March brought us some new volunteers: Arun Rajan who resides in Sugar Land and Gail Williams lives in Richmond. It is great having all of you aboard and thanks for choosing to be part of our great organization.
Next month, I will include a brief history of our organization.
As always, to every volunteer who steps up, thank you for your contribution. 2019 is looking good!