This week marks one year since Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas Gulf Coast and surrounding areas. Shortly after the hurricane made landfall, the Central Texas philanthropic community came together to support revitalization in areas neighboring Central Texas impacted by the storm. Austin Community Foundation along with partners at Capital Factory, Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Central Texas, LiveOak Ventures, MFI Foundation, and United Way for Greater Austin, established the Central Texas Long-Term Hurricane Recovery Fund.
This year, the Fund granted $781,000 to six nonprofits for projects addressing the long-term recovery in three areas: housing, human services, and economic development.
The grants included $250,000 to PeopleFund to provide capital to small businesses impacted by the hurricane. Those funds were then leveraged by an additional $500,000 to provide up to $750,000 in capital for recovering small businesses. The PeopleFund match was made possible by funds from JPM Chase Foundation, Northern Trust, and other generous partners.
Below are a few stories of how this funding helped entrepreneurs rebuild their livelihoods:
Jillian Crow’s Drift Away Day Spa is showing how community efforts can help launch a business. After losing her home during Hurricane Harvey and learning that her former employer would not be able to reopen due to building damage, Jillian decided to open her own premier spa services provider in March 2018. With over 12 years’ experience working in luxury spas and the massage therapy industry, Jillian wanted to use her skillset to open her own business. Drift Away offers massage therapy and nail services, employing local estheticians to provide the best service for women and men looking to relax and pursue a healthy lifestyle. With support from the Central Texas Long-Term Hurricane Recovery Fund, Jillian was able to expand her operations to include three nail technicians, spa equipment and furniture as well as working capital for her budding small business.
Bakery Kingdom’s owner, Olga Rozenstein has over 16 years’ experience as a pastry chef and finally followed her dream by opening her own bakery with her husband. Shortly after, Kingdom Bakery was profoundly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The business was inaccessible with the building itself flooded and closed roads. After two weeks the bakery started to work in its regular hours, but there were not enough groceries to supply products to its customers. Support from the Fund provided Olga with capital to get her popular bakery up and running again.
In 2015, Lisa Ruszczyk opened Jo D’s, a women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessory boutique. She opened her shop in a local shopping center and quickly gained popularity. Lisa’s business was severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey; the shopping center was entirely flooded and forced Lisa to temporarily close down. After months of physical repairs to the building, Lisa was able to reopen her boutique. Thanks to support from the Fund, she has the capital to successfully relaunch her business.
On the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, we share these stories of hope and recovery, and we’re proud to see these women-owned businesses flourishing. To learn more about our relief efforts, read our news article.