As the “Hope After Harvey” benefit concert this past Sunday came to an end, I rose to my feet with the hundreds of other people who had gathered at Saint John’s United Methodist Church. We had just finished listening to a marvelous and heartfelt performance by the Miró Quartet, and were all about to start singing Amazing Grace in unison. Every seat was filled, with more people lining the aisles along the sides of the church, and even more watching a video simulcast of the concert from two overflow rooms. In this moment, I was reminded of the power of being together.

Less than a week before, I was sitting down with our team to explore the possibility of creating an event to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The days that followed now swirl together as I think about how enthusiastically our partners at Conspirare, Austin Chamber Music Center, the Miró Quartet, St. John’s United Methodist Church, KUTX’s John Aielli, and KMFA jumped on board, ready to lend a hand, and eager to make this event a reality. I think of how volunteers from each organization pledged their time and their energy to make this event run smoothly. I think of the donations we received from people in Texas, Florida, California, and even Switzerland and Singapore, all to help those displaced in the aftermath of the hurricane. We did this together, and all of us at Austin Classical Guitar are honored to have been a part of it.

Hope for Harvey raised $31,500, all of which will go to Austin- and Houston-based disaster relief organizations. We were also surprised and delighted to receive two carloads of donated food, personal hygiene, and cleaning supplies, one trunk load of diapers, one carload of clothes, a car seat and two large toddler toys, as well as an unexpected donation of two tickets to Six Flags which will be given to children affected by Hurricane Harvey.

What’s Next?

There is still much work to do. Many people and communities will be working to rebuild their lives and homes for a long time to come. ACG will be organizing group volunteer trips in the coming weeks and months to areas experiencing hardship in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. If you’re interested in joining us, please email Julie Stoakley and she’ll add you to the list.