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October 4, 2018


KABOOM! and the Rebuild Texas Fund are working side-by-side to bring play to kids impacted by Hurricane Harvey and provide them a safe, fun environment to build resiliency and cope with the stress often associated with natural disasters. Together, this partnership will bring 57 grant opportunities to communities affected by the hurricane. Below are two stories, in Gonzales, TX and Fulton, TX, that reflect how our partnership has helped kids and communities heal and regain a sense of normalcy.

On the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, volunteers witnessed the joy and laughter of kids who, just one year prior, were faced with fear and uncertainty after the storm hit Gonzales, Texas.

More than 200 people came together to help build a playground for the kids of FamilyLink at Legacy Ranch, a foster and adoption center in Gonzales. During the hurricane, the team at FamilyLink worked tirelessly to make sure the kids felt safe, despite the rising water, flooding and debris caused by the storm. The devastation that a hurricane can bring to a community impacts everyone, and for kids, the experience can be especially stressful.

From the left, Lysa Ratliff, Matt Morton and Nikki Morton

The volunteers have faced many hard days since the storm. But when they came together to make a difference in the lives of the kids at FamilyLink, it reminded each of them of the transformative power of community unity, and that love is powerful enough to heal any circumstance.

Nikki Morton and her husband have worked at FamilyLink for the past 6.5 years. Not only do they both dedicate their time to the kids at the ranch, but they are extremely thankful for this program. FamilyLink has allowed them the opportunity to open up their home and hearts by fostering, then adopting, seven kids from the program.

Whenever they get to play, they don’t have to think about their past—they get to just focus on being kids. This playground will be a safe haven for them. Knowing their stories and hearing them laugh again, it’s just amazing. Their resilience is inspiring.

Nikki Morton, FamilyLink

The fabric of this community is strong and, like the playground, will last for years to come. Not only are these kids recovering and rebuilding from Hurricane Harvey, they are recovering and rebuilding from their pasts. With the peaceful safe haven Legacy Ranch and their new playground provides, these kids will be able to build back better than they were before.

There’s been great progress made after the storm, and there’s still a lot to do to complete recovery in Southeast Texas. But when we come together for a common purpose, we are stronger ever— anything is possible.

Family Link volunteers cut the ribbon on their new playground
The completed playspace, designed by Family Link kids

When Hurricane Harvey ravaged Southeast Texas, it damaged homes and left kids like Bill, Sussie and Aubree, featured in the video below, feeling helpless and powerless.

Despite the overwhelming stress of lost homes, lost loved ones and lost sense of normalcy, Mayor of Fulton Jimmy Kendrick knew he had to do something to help the community bring hope back to his town.

Am I scared? I’m still scared.
Twenty-two months after and I’m still scared. But I want to prove to everybody I can get it done.

Mayor Jimmy Kendrick
A group of homes affected by Hurricane Harvey in Fulton, TX

As Texans began to rebuild their lives, Rebuild Texas Fund and KABOOM! helped them rebuild the crucial spaces that allow communities to gather and heal. Bill, Sussie, Aubree and their friends came together to draw their dream playground just less than a year after the hurricane. Their designs included swirly slides, slides for younger kids, a rock wall. Aubree voiced to our KABOOM! team that there should be “something for everyone.”

Kids work with KABOOM! Senior Project Manager Bryan McNamara to design their dream playgrounds

The damage of a hurricane continues long after the skies clear, but building a playspace can do wonders to heal kids and communities. Kids and families could finally see their actions were making a difference, and previous feelings of helplessness changed to hopefulness. 

In Augsut 2018, Lysa Ratliff was featureed on HLN’s MichaeLA program to discuss the work being done in Texas to restore joy in the lives of kids impacted by Hurricane Harvey.