November 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 7 
Cover Story

'How can I help?'

'How can I help?'

Houston springs into action after Katrina


No one was prepared for the enormous devastation Hurricane Katrina caused when it struck the U.S. Gulf states recently. But even under these circumstances, Boeing employees took action and asked, "How can I help?"

Besides contributing about $4 million to the American Red Cross via the Employees Community Fund, Boeing employees gave generously of their time and other resources to help those in need. This was particularly apparent at Boeing sites nearest the disaster area—especially Houston, about 350 miles away from storm-affected New Orleans.

And they didn't waste any time, either. Katrina struck on Aug. 29, and just one day later, Boeing Houston's Community and Education Relations office was inundated by calls from employees wanting to help the thousands of evacuees—many separated from loved ones—arriving in the Houston area seeking basic human necessities such as food, water and shelter.

Dayni Alba, Boeing Houston's Community and Education Relations representative, shared with Boeing Frontiers how she and her team coordinated hurricane relief efforts locally and how employees contributed.

Q: Why were Boeing Houston employees anxious to help with the relief efforts?

A: Primarily because of Houston's proximity to New Orleans. Many have family in the area or are from Louisiana, and a vast majority of those needing help were being evacuated to the Houston area. We immediately assembled an action team and contacted the local American Red Cross chapter and other crisis-relief centers to determine needs. Then, we worked to determine where and how to focus our relief efforts.

Q: How did you work with agencies to mobilize and deploy resources?

A: The day after Katrina made landfall, Boeing Houston employees began contacting the Community and Education Relations office and members of the PRIDE team, an employee group that implements events and activities, with suggestions for aiding relief efforts. In many cases, we acted on recommendations from employees about community organizations and other resources we could tap into. Once we identified needs and coordinated activities, we stayed in constant communication with the organizations so we could continue to provide support for changing requirements.

Q: What are some of the ways Boeing Houston helped those in need?

A: Boeing Houston donated 24 pallets of relief supplies, food and basic-care items to local emergency shelters and food pantries. We also coordinated relief efforts with NASA–Johnson Space Center and our industry colleagues to support the Houston Food Bank with sorting and packing. Additionally, numerous employees performed hands-on work. For example, at Reliant Park, an events complex designated as a shelter, more than 70 Boeing volunteers assisted with meal service, volunteer registration, clothing and hygiene-item distribution. My fellow employees in San Antonio, another location active in helping evacuees in Texas, as well as others throughout the enterprise provided similar help.

Q: What challenges did you face?

A: The first few days after Katrina hit we had to analyze all the opportunities and then determine where, when and how to commit Boeing resources. Our resources are finite, and it seemed the needs were infinite. Watching tens of thousands of people coming to our local communities—many with just the clothes on their back—was heart-wrenching, and the desire to provide immediate help was instinctive. However, it was necessary to diligently assess the community needs, to ensure the help was provided wisely and appropriately.

Q: Why does this tragedy serve as an example of the importance for Boeing to invest in communities where its employees live and work?

A: Employees looked to the company for guidance and assistance in leveraging resources to increase support to those in need. Boeing's ability to respond effectively and meaningfully during this tragic time was rooted in the relationships that it already has established with local community agencies. Companies such as Boeing that have the resources, relationships and desire to help in the face of such devastation demonstrate commitment to the community's health and welfare.

Q: Did support from Boeing employees make a difference?

A: The outpouring of those wanting to provide assistance was overwhelming. Boeing employees are very generous with their time, dollars and resources every time there is a need in the community. We are passionate when it comes to helping those in need.


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