This year has been a year of many catastrophic natural occurrences around the world and domestically from wild fires in Montana, California, and the western states to earth quakes, in Mexico, Guatemala, Italy and other countries, along with the many uncommon number of super cyclones/ hurricanes that have decimated the Leeward and Virgin Islands along with crippling Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida. Hundreds of lives have been lost with thousands more displaced for months to come. Through all this tragedy people have answered the call to come together to help the hurting, homeless, hungry,and the helpless; compassion at its finest in the greatest time of need.
When hurricane Harvey hit the east coast of Texas bringing devastation to Houston and the surrounding areas Pedro Nieves (president/founder of Families for the Future,Inc ) and I talked about maybe postponing our yearly mission trip to Guatemala. Well, not quite two weeks later Irma slams the south coast of Florida coming in through Naples ripping the center of the entire state. No question about it we were cancelling Guatemala mission to concentrate our efforts in helping victims of Harvey and Irma.
As we are in prayer and in preparation in organizing relief Maria rakes through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico causing havoc and desolation. Our decision of where to help is clouded by all the red tape and bureaucratic hoops from the national relief organizations. The lack of communication from any of the state or national disaster offices caused Pedro and I to scramble in organizing our own disaster relief. My prayer was “Lord help us in organizing this undertaking. Give us wisdom and understanding. Bring the people to us to get help in these efforts”. Behold, God never lets His children down in what is His will in us.
On September 22nd, two days after Maria hits Puerto Rico I get a call from a business client Tricia Gardner of TransCor/Venture Logistics in which she proceeds to tell me several of the employees organized a disaster aid drive filling up one semi trailer full of water and essential items for hurricane victims of Puerto Rico. She proceeds to tell that the donors do have a place to store nor have a way to send it to Puerto Rico. Immediately I get on the phone with Pedro telling him of the news, he is ecstatic of the news! I get a call back from Tricia, “we have three trailers total full of water”! I responded, “are you kidding me”! “Holy cow”!!! When God gives you He gives in abundance! Our dilemma now is where to store three trailers.
A week passed, my efforts to locate a space for the trailers have become futile. I asked several people at my church’s Wednesday service for help in finding someone or company that will help us store these trailers. I had one gentleman who works in logistics himself tell me that he had a couple of possibilities of people he knew in the business that may be able to help. Friday came, no call. Sunday nothing. Monday morning came, and over a week since I I got word of the trailers, I prayed, as I usually am accustomed to every morning, asked of the Lord again to lead me and help me find a place to store the trailers. As I prayed a thought came to my mind of a warehouse that I picked up some construction materials for my home about a month earlier. I told myself, let me go by there to ask if they can help us in storing these three trailers until we can get it to Puerto Rico. What is the worst they can say, no! I start to go to The Empire Company.
I walk into the front office of the Empire building asking the young girl sitting at the front desk that I would to speak to someone about helping us out with some disaster aid to Puerto Rico. As soon as I said that a woman that was in the office to my right asked to me come into her office. She asked how she could help me. I introduced my self “hello my name is Orbis Nieves vice president of Families for the Future a non profit 501(3)c” and proceeded to tell her my story on how we came to have these three semi tractor trailers full of water and other disaster aid items. As soon as I finished explaining our situation she tells me to sit right there. She exits her office and goes to the office across from her. About five minutes later she enters the room with the warehouse manager David Moffitt. He continues to tell me whatever we need we can have, from forklifts to shipping materials even manpower. I couldn’t believe my ears! David walks me through the warehouse to show me the bays to where we can place the trailers. As he is showing and explaining everything I was trying very hard not to show my emotions. I was totally praising and thanking God inside myself for what was happening! Now even though I am excited,, I am not surprised that God would touch the hearts of others so that this good work could be accomplished. As I leave and drive off I called Tricia to tell her we have the bays and where to drive them over. I also called Pedro to tell him of the story. All he could say was “praise God”.
It took several days, in fact it was Monday October 2nd, when the trailers arrived at Empire. The night before I mass texted everyone of my contacts (over 300) on my phone, telling everyone I needed volunteers to unload pallets of water and other materials for disaster relief for Puerto Rico. I received five to six return text telling me they will help. Monday morning I had nine volunteers eager to work. David Moffitt instructed his supervisor Anthony to help with whatever we needed. They used their forklifts and began removing pallets of water in order for the us, the volunteers, to un-stack to then re-stack the pallets of water correctly so that the water would not come apart during the shipping. It took three and a half days of exhausting, hot, heavy lifting,and of breaking down and classifying goods in boxes to re-stacking. The Empire’s workers were unbelievably helpful with whatever we needed, loading, unloading, and then on the last day loading the container to ship to Puerto Rico. Truly, The Empire Company was true a God send.
However it doesn’t end here. We still have to pay to get all this to Puerto Rico. And again, God touches the hearts of many to raise close to $9000 for Puerto Rico Disaster Relief in less than twenty four hours.
Many people answered the call, from the hundreds from Orlando and Lakeland area residents that donated water, food, toiletries, diapers, medicines, etc… to Transcor/Venture Logistics who supplied the trailers, and The Empire Company and its employees that stored and loaded the trailers. Compassion is the root of good proving that when catastrophe hits close to home the hearts of many are tender to the call.
- Venture Logistics and employees
- Tricia Gardner
- The Empire Company and employess
- Segundo Gonzalez
- Phil Nieves
- Matt Espina
- Rene Arrazcaeta
- Brittany Nieves
- Garvi Arias
- Elias Nieves
- Nury Acosta
- Ramon Acosta
Special Financial Thanks
- FWC and congregation
- Mike and Pat Barton of Health Insurance of Florida
- Greg and Vicky of Evergreen Forrest Products 2
- Shawn of Shawn R McDonald Realty Group
- Antonia Ortiz
- Pat Cardin
- Donna French
- Michelle Medlong