Southwest Louisiana took a hit last Thursday morning when Hurricane Laura came inland, destroying thousands of homes and properties across the state. Organizations such as the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana have already started gathering funds to be able to support those that need help in these dark, uncertain times.
“Last Wednesday, when it was apparent that Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana were in the eye of the storm, we went on and activated a hurricane relief refund with our community of Southwest Louisiana,” said Sara Judson, the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of SLWA.
By late afternoon on Wednesday, Judson had already received her first call from a company who was ready to make a donation ahead of Hurricane Laura’s arrival.
“We can know in Southwest Louisiana that many people and companies are tremendously supportive of our relief efforts and are here to help. We have had over 1,600 individual contributions on our website since Wednesday,” expressed Judson. “Truly everybody can be a part at whatever level is meaningful for them and doable from them.”
Donations have ranged from one dollar to the one million dollar corporate donation from the Walmart Foundation and have come from across the country.
“It’s going very well,” said Willie Mount, who is leading the initiative alongside Rick Richard.
“I know that our folks, the people of southwest Louisiana are very resilient. In the past, I was the senator when Rita hit, and saw how Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana came back with a vengeance and met every challenge. Our efforts at the Community Foundation, as far as hurricane relief, will play a very significant role in initiating very quickly to other nonprofits dollars that can help people in need,” Mount enthused.
Judson and some of her colleagues and partners from the Baton Rouge community went to Lake Charles this week to speak to those nonprofits that are working nonstop to provide immediate relief services, and are able to begin to make grants this week to those who have requested help. They are now able to wire grants directly to those nonprofits starting this week for quicker relief for those in the area.
“We think it’s just tremendous that we’ve had such an outpouring in the first week. It’s so heartwarming to know that so many of us from Southwest Louisiana have had people texting and calling and emailing and attempting to check in with us to see how they can help, and so many people have been generous in giving what they can, whether it be money or supplies,” Judson explained. She said that their motto, “we’re about connecting people who care with causes that matter” is really shining through in these troublesome times.
“We’ve been so appreciative … it’s been very humbling to see how quickly Americans, and that’s really the key word, true Americans care about one another and are there to help in any way that they can. It’s been a tremendous, happy thing to see. We already have our first grants being made to nonprofits within a week of the storm. That would not be possible without the assistance of people, Americans from all over the country, helping us in every way,” expressed Mount.
Mount explained that the Community Foundation of SLWA encourages people to reach out to them if there is anyone in need that they are unaware of that they can pair with a nonprofit that is able to help them, and asks that people who have the capabilities to contribute food, water, or simply through the foundation to do so in any capacity that they are able.
To help out with the Hurricane Laura relief fund, people can visit www.HelpSWLA.org and spread the word about the fundraiser so they are able to help those nonprofits serve the community. Updates are posted on Community Foundation of SWLA’s social media.