Hurricane Harvey inspired tremendous philanthropy and countless neighbor-helping-neighbor acts of good will immediately following the tempest. But seven months after the storm and epic flooding, there are still those struggling to pick up the pieces. Those are the people Brenda Pentecost worries about most.
“A lot of people don’t realize there are still people in such great need,” said the homemaker from Porter. “They’re still out there, and it’s not over for them.”
That’s why Pentecost continues to volunteer, feeding displaced residents in her community — a project that began only weeks after Harvey. Pentecost got involved with an effort organized by other Porter home-school moms like herself to take home-cooked meals to families living in area motels while their housing situation is being resolved. A group of about 10 volunteers began taking meals twice a week to six local hotels filled with families displaced by flood damage.
Today there are three hotels that continue to be serviced, including the Comfort Suites in Kingwood, which is the motel that Pentecost oversees as a “host.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays Pentecost and her 16-year-old son Brandon take a hot meal to the motel. Brandon makes cookies, as many as 20 dozen on a weekend. He’s made so many that Brenda’s stand mixer is now shot.
Pentecost estimates there are about 40 displaced families at the motel, many of whom she’s come to know. Not all of them partake of the meals, but that’s not the point, she said. “It’s not what I’m feeding them, it’s the fact we’re showing them how much they’re cared for.”
She, her husband Bobby, and Brandon have all contributed to many large-scale servings of grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, beef stroganoff, brisket, chili and soup — along with side dishes, salad, sweet tea and dessert. Donations have helped with expenses, but like the other volunteers she’s working with, some of the meals come out of her family’s pocket.
“Our group is about showing love to these people and to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Pentecost said. “No matter how weary we get, we can’t stop.”
But at some point, her displaced families will get back in their homes and she’ll return to her normal routine before Harvey intervened with a volunteer project that lasted much longer than she anticipated. She said she might feel a little lonely when that time comes, but she definitely feels blessed to have helped her fellow man.
“I’m not a hero,” she said. “I’m just a human.”