Helping With Hurricane Harvey Relief

Several counties in Texas have been impacted and displaced by Hurricane Harvey. The region was hit by over two feet of rain last week resulting in severe flooding, wind damage, and power outages. Rescues from Rockport to Port Arthur, Texas took place, with brave civilians pitching in with boats and trucks.

Post-Harvey, areas are still dealing with the aftermath. Flood levels damaged a water system in Beaumont, causing the whole city to lose clean water. Gas shortages are limiting the amount of resources survivors can obtain, as well as the ability to evacuate into a less chaotic area, until they can rebuild.

During a time like this, desire to help is strong, but you might be unsure of the right way to go about doing so. Below are a list of organizations that are serving the South and Southeast Texas regions to provide immediate and long-term aid:

Texas Diaper Bank is the only disaster relief program in Texas which specifically focuses on providing diapers to victims of natural disasters.

You can send donations directly to the Texas Diaper Bank’s physical address, or donate online via their Amazon wishlist and/or

American Red Cross asks that you donate blood (if you can do so!). You can also contribute to providing supplies. ARC has set up an Amazon wishlist full of items specifically designated for disaster relief in Texas, which includes everything from disinfecting wipes to hypoallergenic toddler pillows.

Southeast Texas Food Bank provides food resources to local charities as well as directly to the community during disaster periods in the Southeast region. They task themselves with making sure food donations are safe for consumption before distributing through local organizations and national organizations with offices based in the region.  

Feeding Texas distributes food statewide by working with state and federal disaster relief programs. is a statewide nonprofit that works alongside state and federal relief programs to make sure disasters aren’t made worse by unorganized responses. 

GoFundMe, the social fundraising site, has created a landing page that gathers the campaigns on its platform related to Harvey.

The Salvation Army says it is providing food and water to first responders and preparing for massive feeding efforts for residents.

Send Relief and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief says its teams began responding before Harvey made landfall and continues on-the-ground relief work.

Samaritan's Purse is accepting donations as well as volunteers for Harvey disaster relief for the coming months.

Refugee Services Of Houston typically offers resettlement services, English language training, and even refugee cash assistance, but right now their main focus is to help refugees and other displaced persons in Harvey’s path. You can donate directly through their website, or make a donation via their Amazon client wishlist.   

Animal Defense League of Texas is working to provide shelter to animals impacted by Harvey. You can make drop-offs if you’re near the location in San Antonio, and can also donate directly through the Animal Defense League’s site, or check out their Amazon wishlist.

Amazon Smile Don’t have a lot to give? Through Amazon Smile, you can donate by just purchasing your own essentials. For every eligible purchase, Amazon Smile will donate 5% of your purchase price to the charity of your choice.

United Way Beaumont & North Jefferson County and United Way of Greater Houston have launched a relief fund for storm-related needs and recovery. United Way maintains a disaster relief fund but anticipates the needs of Harvey will far exceed those existing resources.

Every little bit helps right now, so if you can afford it, consider donating to any one of the listed organizations and push yourself to do more digging and find others if you feel moved to do so. However, before giving money to an organization, do your research.

Charity Navigator, which identifies worthy charities, has a list of organizations responding after the storm. Its database is a good starting place to research nonprofits. The Internal Revenue Service has search tools that reveal whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. If you suspect an organization or individual is engaging in fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud. For advice on avoiding fraudsters, read Charity Navigator’s post on how to protect yourself, and check out these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.

Processing Trauma and Pursuing Self-Care

Davia Roberts is a licensed therapist, documentarian, community organizer, and wellness blogger based in Austin, TX. She launched Redefine Enough in July 2015 with the intention of inspiring other women to redefine "good enough."

With the current political climate and steady flow of injustices being reported, professionals of color in a predominately white office space can find themselves incredibly alone. Davia shares some tips on how Black professionals can handle trauma and still function in the workplace, regardless of their work environment. 

Step away from the computer

Our consumption of things like aggressive posts, interviews driven by racism and bigotry, bloody images of slain Black and Brown bodies re-traumatizes us, further complicating our pain as we try to process and grieve. While we can’t control the images that come across our timelines and news feeds, we can make a deliberate choice to disconnect for a period of time.

Social media has become one of the most impactful news sources for many. While we’re able to have more information available, we’re exposed to more hate speech and blatant racism through online platforms. The desire to express outrage about police brutality and racism can be met with microaggressions and dismissive comments from people you once considered “friends.” The need to defend causes like the #BlackLivesMatter movement becomes your own self-defense as you argue your right to live freely. As simple as this concept seems, it drains your energy when you have to do it over and over again. It’s okay to step away for your own mental health’s sake.

Take time away from the office, if possible.

If you’re in a place of privilege where you’re able to take time away from the office, do it. Give yourself time to be in an environment that feels safe to you, whether it’s at home, church, or therapist’s office. Do what you need.

For those without the ability to access time off, be deliberate about how you use your space. Close the door to your office if you need time to yourself. If you have a cubicle, plug in your headphones and place a sign near your desk that says, “Do not disturb. Trying to meet deadline.” Be mindful that you can engage in self-care practices at work such as going for a walk around the building, meditating at your desk, or breathing exercises when you feel yourself becoming activated by an insensitive comment by a colleague or news of another tragedy.

Meet with other professionals who are POC in community

Seek out professional organizations like local Urban Leagues that may hold events for people of color to unite. At the very least, you’ll likely connect with other POC who are able to understand and empathize with the difficulty one faces in a predominantly white workplace.

When the situation involves death or a serious loss, allow yourself the moment to grieve

You do not have to buy the false logic that says you have to be “strong.” You are allowed to hurt and feel pain. Allow yourself the space to grieve, mourn, and be human...even when others fail to recognize your humanity.

Seek professional support

In the midst of a possibly hostile work environment, find a space that allows you to process with a professional who will be supportive as you experience a wide spectrum of emotions. While some corporations provide licensed therapists for employees, choose a clinician who you trust will understand your experience without the fear that session content will not be shared with your employer. Find safety...your mental health depends on it.

Outside The Lines: Justin Adu

The past year has been made up of consistent wins for Black creatives. Issa Rae launched Golden Globe nominated, Insecure on HBO. Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino (yes, people still don’t know they’re one and the same) blessed us with Atlanta on FX, and graced the cover of ADWEEK’s Young Influentials issue. It’s refreshing to see so many Black creatives coloring outside the lines and crossing multiple mediums and channels successfully. However, the encouragement for creatives working in more corporate settings to do the same thing, is still not the norm.

Enter Justin Adu, Associate Creative Director of Digital and Social Media at Carol H. Williams Advertising. Adu’s spent the bulk of his creative years crushing the expectation that a creative must focus on a singular area. From creating a dynamic art exhibit, to challenging the lack of diversity within the Oscars, Adu’s remained consistent with coloring outside the lines. Most recently, he published a book Don’t Insert Title Here: The Guide Toward Creative Freedom and Success and is releasing his own spin on the traditional audio book today.

You’ve received a lot of support and praise for your book in its current format. What inspired you to go on the route you’re taking with the new audio book mixtape?

I knew I wanted to do an audio book, everything with this book from the inception to the promotion of it, has used a non-traditional approach, and I actually wouldn’t have it any other way. When you do it from a non-traditional approach you’re able to authentically connect with the people. And I’ve always been about people, but specifically my people. Even when it goes back to the days of teaching, nobody’s told me better than my own students, hey, uh you’re kind of long-winded, you talk too much. So I knew I didn’t want to do a traditional audio book. So I went into a studio, and collaborated with one of my favorite DJ’s M*Knight who mixed it and K_Flow who mastered it in Dallas to create an audio book mixtape. I’m reading the book, so you’ll hear excerpts from the book, infused with music, so it has a really nice smooth tone to it.

What are you hoping this will inspire?

It’s a piece that black creatives can vibe to while working. Me personally as a designer, it’s so hard for me to design without music, I wanted it to be a piece that creatives could listen to and be inspired. I like to take creative projects and see how I can extend them in different directions. To me, that’s how you know you have a really great creative project going. If you can only go in one direction, you might need to back-track. This whole process has taken on legs of its own and I’m just going with it, and it’s been an exciting ride.

What’s something you wish you would have known before you entered the industry?

I wish I had known about the different environments that were available in the field. Me being here at Carol H. Williams Advertising, they caught me at my most seasoned, at my best, because I’ve been to so many places and honestly, this is the place that I should have been first. I wish that I would have known more about the tone of different creative shops and the ethics of those shops (finding a place that’ll be true to you) and about the people that work for those particular agencies is really important. I should have known more about the different types of advertising agencies.

You’ve had a taste of the general market agency life, how does it compare to being at a multicultural agency in terms of the work you do and the approach you take?

There’s a quote in our office, “when you view the world, who’s eyes are you viewing the world through?” In a main-stream agency I’m viewing things through a black person’s eyes and when dealing with the African-American market, they’re not really scratching the surface. Working in a multicultural agency, we’re digging deeper into African-American persona’s, they’re not just one bucket, there are so many different sub-categories within the Black community that general market ad agencies don’t address. Plus, we also have the advantage of being closer to that community in terms of awareness and comprehension. So even though I might not identify with someone in a sub-demographic, 9 times out of 10 I know someone who fits in that demo.

What’s a challenge that you think hits Blacks in the industry working in general market agencies more so than those working in multicultural agencies?

It’s a different landscape in the mainstream market, we have to support each other and we have to be very unapologetic in how aggressive we are in pursuing our goals in the way we want to accomplish them.

I don’t think general market agencies are setting us up for success and progression, they’re not positioning us in that way. They’re positioning other white people in that way, so we don’t have a choice but to position ourselves in that way, because nobody else is going to do it.

I think this holds even truer for African-American women in the industry, being intentional is critical as you elevate into a managerial position. Someone that I think has really done an amazing job at holding her own ground and maintaining her stake is Carol H. Williams, and that’s ultimately my goal, not be the baddest, most talented and creative Black in advertising, but it’s really to be a non-stoppable force in advertising, and in addition to that, I’m Black.

Given that it’s hard to get the support how would you suggest a growing professional seek a mentor and become a good mentee?

Read, read, and read. Do the research and make sure that you’re making the appropriate connections with people that are going to genuinely support you and help you. I began working at Carol H. Williams Advertising in 2016 and I remember reading about Ms. Williams back in the early 2000’s in a Black Enterprise article. I wasn’t working in advertising, I was still a creative, working as a graphic designer but still very confused about what I wanted to do in terms of my career and my major.

Now when I think back on that, it’s a full circle moment, because now I’m an ACD at an agency I’d only read about and in an industry I didn’t know anything about and on top of that I just completed a social media activation with Black Enterprise in which I was giving creatives tips on being creative (Heavy sigh, “God is good”). On top of the research, I’d also say you have to have an idea of what your end goal is. Plus, you need to know how to stay focused and be able to identify when you’re wasting time. I didn’t waste time, and that’s played a key role in how fast I’ve moved personally and professionally.

I always think about who the old me was, “It’s funny how quick we forget about what we have right now.” and it pushes me to want even more for myself and serves as a motivator to constantly strive for the best out of myself.  You have to remember how bad you wanted what you have right now.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date?

Being consistent and being focused. Which is very hard when you’re in advertising because there will be times when you’ll want to quit, sometimes you’ll have long hours, there will people you work with that you simply don’t understand or vibe with, you can get laid off when you don’t expect it.

And I’ve been through all of those different things. So being consistent and focused has been a big accomplishment for me, because there are times when you get pushed to the edge and you want to drop it all. I still, God-willing, have a lot of years in this industry and I love advertising and what I’m doing, but there are times when I sit back and I’m in awe that I’m still making moves in this industry despite the setbacks.

Click here to listen to Adu’s Audiobook Mixtape

Outside The Lines is a column that features dynamic Black professionals in advertising and media that are disrupting their industries for the better. Know of someone amazing that we should feature? Drop us a line: