Responding quickly to Hurricane Harvey, the NSA Foundation established a Hurricane Relief Fund to provide financial assistance for its members.
Through its Hurricane Relief Fund, the NSA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the National Speakers Association, is helping its members recover from the destruction left behind by Hurricane Harvey.
The NSA Foundation’s Professional Speakers Benefit Fund is administering $1,000 checks to meet the immediate needs of NSA members in the impacted areas. Members requiring additional assistance can also apply for an additional PSBF grant.
“Right now, that $1,000 is just a stop gap—emergency fund money for those who are in tough times,” said NSA Foundation Board of Trustees Chairperson Al Walker. “This fund is set aside specifically for hurricane relief, and every dollar will go to that.”
Drawing from prior experience dealing with natural disasters, the NSA Foundation acted quickly to provide assistance to the more than 80 NSA members in the Houston area. “A lot of us were heavily involved with [Hurricane] Katrina, so we knew how critical it was to respond as fast as we possibly could,” Walker said.
The NSA Foundation convened an emergency board meeting to determine how the Hurricane Relief Fund would be created, as well as how money would be collected and distributed to members. Then, after a separate conversation with NSA’s Interim CEO Chris Packard and others at NSA’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, a decision was reached. “We came up with our plan and implemented it immediately. That’s what enabled us to respond so quickly,” Walker said.
Despite Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, Walker said getting in touch with members in the impacted areas “was pretty easy.” Marilyn Sherman, chair of the Certified Speaking Professional Council, was one of the driving forces behind the efforts to locate and contact each member. “She was excited about helping out,” Walker said. “They jumped on it, and within 24 hours, they contacted everybody.”
Walker, who spoke in the Houston area earlier this year, said Hurricane Harvey’s impact will be felt beyond NSA members who were directly affected. Meetings have been canceled and members with scheduled speaking engagements in the area stand to lose a lot. “They’ll lose income because of the hurricane having an effect on their clients and other people,” he said. “That’s the compounding effect of this whole thing.”
Last week, NSA President Brian Walter announced the creation of the Hurricane Relief Fund and encouraged members to donate. Since then, Walker said the NSA Foundation has received contributions from at least 90 members totaling close to $21,500.
“Our members respond really well to the Foundation,” Walker said. “We all treasure the Foundation because it has proven, time and time again, to be a rich resource for people in need.”