What We Learn From Disaster...

There’s something about thunderstorms that make you think.

In between the cracking of lighting and the rumbling of thunder, there’s a drumbeat of perspective that often finds it way into your mind.

2011 has been one of the most destructive years ever for natural disasters, from the epic earthquake in Japan to the recent rash of tornadoes in the U.S. And for those affected, within a matter of seconds, everything changes.

Last week I spent my evening hours in my basement, rushing to the bottom floor of my home amidst the soundtrack of screaming sirens, whipping wind, and tumbling trees.

I am from Texas, so I grew up accustomed to rough weather, but this week was the only time I felt the need to heed the warnings and take myself – and my cats – down to safety. Thankfully for my city of Cincinnati, it was just a scare.

I’ve had an intimate relationship with Mother Nature over the last 5 years, as the global leader of my company’s Loads of Hope program, working to provide clean clothes to help renew a sense of hope to victims of natural disasters.

Our team began this work after Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Since then, Loads of Hope has helped more than 100,000 families in more than 30 natural disasters in the U.S. and 8 major catastrophes around the world. Today, our teams are on the ground in Joplin and Japan, trying to do our small part to help those in need. (below (L-R): Loads of Hope Philippines (Typhoon); Loads of Hope Saudi Arabia (floods); Loads of Hope Pakistan (floods).)

Personally, I’ve spent a lot of time with families affected by disasters across the world and I’ve learned that these forces of nature are one of life’s most humbling “equalizers.”

They can affect anyone, anywhere, at anytime. And no matter one’s continent, culture, race, ethnicity, social status, or employment situation, when people lose everything their sentiments are the same… Their heartbreak is identical. Their resolve – their search for hope – is shared.

Mother Nature is a powerful story teller, and her lessons can be unexpected and unforgiving. But at her strongest moments, she provides clarity amidst the chaos, helping us remember what we often forget during our daily routines.

When sudden storms roll in or the ground begins to shake, people always reach for the same thing… another hand to hold.

In an instant, our precious possessions fade to black. Instead, the light shines on the irreplaceable. Who we love and what we love becomes crystal clear. Our thoughts turn to people and pets, decisions and dreams, recollections and regrets…

In our toughest times, we fall back on our most basic needs and our most genuine feelings. Priorities change and Purpose is magnified.

I am proud of our employees, partners, and teams around the world for their selfless dedication to this Cause. Their desire to help is genuine and sincere.

I am even more amazed, though, by the will, compassion, and humanity of the people affected by these disasters. In EVERY case, communities have come together. Neighbors become family. Strangers carry each other.

The worst situations have brought out the best in people.

On behalf of our Loads of Hope teams and #TEAMbesomebody across the world, our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to all those affected by these disasters. Please help each other in any way you can. In times of need, even the little things can make a big difference.


Kash $

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