Finding Comfort in the Wake of Hurricane

CWSKit Stories

Top and bottom: Plymouth Harbor staff Sabina Grimste, Kamiana Jones and Gigi Rousseau assist residents returning after evacuation, Middle: Area surrounding Plymouth Harbor during hurricane Idalia

When Hurricane Idalia threatened communities in Florida this past summer, the vast ocean surrounding Plymouth Harbor Retirement Home transformed from a source of peace to one of danger. In less than four hours, staff had to evacuate more than 250 seniors, who average about 85 years of age, to safety. Many residents left with very limited belongings and strong winds threatened to knock them over, making them feel vulnerable and unsafe.

In preparation for a disaster such as this one, Beth Watson who is Plymouth Harbor’s Vice President of Philanthropy, began to search for organizations that provide supplies in the event of a disaster. Within less than five minutes she found CWS’ Kits and Blankets program. She said, “Your site was the first to come up, and another gift that CWS gave to us was an easy application process. I applied and heard right away.” Through Beth’s initiative, Plymouth Harbor had Kits and Blankets delivered as soon as possible to be able to support the residents during Hurricane Idalia.

John Schale, Director of Safety Services and Emergency Management at Plymouth Harbor, explained the importance of accessing additional supplies for residents who are evacuated to locations that aren’t fully equipped with all the supplies an elderly person might need. He said, “What was great about having your Kits was that we were able to give them to those in independent and assisted living. Not only did they use them but they felt blessed to be receiving this special little gift. Even when they opened them, they were like, ‘Oh! There is a lot more in here than I thought there would be!’” John also added that the residents are used to blankets that they call “itchy blankets” so when they received CWS Blankets they said “Oh my gosh! We’re in heaven!” and immediately felt more comfortable.

The care and comfort brought by the Kits and Blankets did not stop with the residents, however. Beth explained that Plymouth Harbor sees both its residents and staff as “one big family” and ensured that staff also had access to the Kits and Blankets. She shared that one specific staff member lost their entire home and beloved pets but received endless support from Plymouth Harbor, which included the gift of CWS Kits and Blankets. Beth stated, “When God gives you lemons like hurricanes, He also gives you angels like CWS.”

Beth and John also acknowledged the value of CWS’ volunteers who put these Kits together. “These are vulnerable people,” John stated, “They may have the ability to do some things but they don’t have the ability and wherewithal physically to handle this type of situation. They need something to grab onto. What better to grab onto than the things that bring them comfort like these Kits?” Beth echoed this by saying, “Your volunteers are a force to be reckoned with because it’s people like them that give humanity the good name that it has.”

At CWS, our goal is always to ensure the most vulnerable populations are cared for and supported in times of crisis. When things get shaky and disaster strikes, we are there to ensure our neighbors have us to grab onto for stability, safety and comfort.