Heroes of Harvey: Networking Group Volunteer Leader Coordinates Receiving and Distribution of Supplies for Storm Victims

Katy volunteer Leah Martinez, left, visits with Ward B City Council Member Jimmy Mendez – photo courtesy Leah Martinez

As we remember the one-year anniversary of the historic Hurricane Harvey floods, the Willow Fork Drainage District is presenting a series of 10 stories honoring the heroic efforts made by members of our community during that difficult time. This is story #8.

KATY (Covering Katy News)—For a growing community like Katy, professional networking groups can play a helpful role in helping small businesses increase their exposure, grow their customer base and grow their sales and profits. For Hurricane Harvey, a professional networking group such as the National Hispanic Professionals Organization (NHPO) helped with area relief efforts. Leah Martinez of NHPO Katy was a leader in that effort.

After the storm, Martinez and several of her NHPO Katy chapter colleagues met to decide how they would participate in relief efforts. Meanwhile, the NHPO Rio Grande Valley chapter sent an 18-wheeler filled with supplies to Katy.

Nick Doherty, of Supply Bridge Ministries, worked with Martinez on relief efforts. He said the truck was packed with vegetables, fruits and other fresh foods. He said these were things that people did not stockpile because they are perishable.

Doherty described Martinez as a “big player” in getting bulk goods brought into Katy. Martinez’s husband, Monty Ortiz, worked with another chapter’s members and played a big role in that effort.

The chapter secured some space at LaCenterra to store food and supplies as they were being received.

“We distributed things at the UH Victoria campus on Grand Parkway,” Martinez said. “They let us use that as a distribution site.”

Martinez and her fellow professionals worked closely with the Reverend Heather Patriacca Tolleson of First Christian Church, 22101 Morton Ranch Road.

Martinez said Tolleson brought organizational skills to the effort, and also helped provide clean-up pails and other supplies. NHPO Katy members also provided some supplies to the church.

“If we heard of people who needed help, we talked to her [Tolleson] and she was eager to help,” Martinez said. “It was hard times for a lot of people. It’s so easy to give what you have to people who have lost everything.”

The NHPO Katy chapter, created by Martinez in 2016, is one of six such chapters in Texas. Even though the word “Hispanic” is in the organization’s name, Martinez said that it is not solely a Hispanic group, but rather very diverse. The chapter holds weekly meetings and a monthly networking happy hour.

The chapter website is http://www.nhpokaty.org.

Martinez owns Brand-Aid Consulting of Katy, an internet marketing and website design company.

“We provide a forum for small business owners to get to know each other,” Martinez said of NHPO. “We have other chapters across the state, but ours is the most active. It’s a testament to the people of Katy that the chapter is growing.”

As for the volunteer relief efforts, Martinez said members were selfless and had no problems calling on people for supplies and help.

Martinez said the people of Katy are very generous and giving.

“It was all for the love of Katy,” Martinez said.

The Willow Fork Drainage District is celebrating Harvey’s Heroes at an event set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Central Green Park, 21350 Cinco Ranch Boulevard. The event will feature awards, celebrity presentations and live music with IDC, Nicole Heaston Lane, Steff Neff and Sam Smith.

For more information, visit http://willowforkdrainagedistrict.com/central-green/events/harvey-heroes/.

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