Houston Ground Angels was conceived and developed with a single phone call between two ordinary people with an unanticipated bond. In 2000, Kathy Broussard (a volunteer pilot) received a call from Eva Tovar (client) to cancel her trip to MD Anderson Cancer Center for treatment because she could simply not afford transportation to and from the airport to make her appointment. Kathy refused her cancellation and personally drove her to the appointment after the flight. With this simple problem in hand, Kathy took the initiative to make fellow Houstonians' aware of this simple, yet vital, need. A small ad was placed in the volunteer section of the local newspaper and quickly, Houston Ground Angels was born. According to early records, volunteers overwhelmingly came forward and completed approximately 300 missions in what remained of that year alone. In the past thirteen years, with over 15,000 missions completed (with patients coming in from 42 states), it is safe to say that we have provided assistance to many of broad demographics. The deep gratification and appreciation of our clients (and also family/friends) is continually expressed after their experiences with our volunteers and services. We are making a difference for these individuals through the empathy and genuine concern from our volunteers which, in turn, relieve some of the expected stress of the more vital medical decisions a patient has to face. We are on the ground with them, welcoming them in and giving them a significant sense of security that is gratefully accepted.The Future:
Since 2007, our service requests for transportation/missions have grown as much as 40% in some years. In January 2011 our Board of Directors recognized that Houston Ground Angels would have to begin denying requests for transportation assistance unless a transition to a fully staffed organization could provide logistical coordination in this expanding market and educate the immediate community to the services we provide and why we provide them. Houston Ground Angels, as an organization comprised of volunteers, is devoted to providing free ground transportation to individuals, in financial need, traveling into the Houston area for treatment within the ever-expanding and advancing Medical Center (mainly, to MD Anderson Cancer Center). The coordination of increasing individual missions has brought about a collective realization through our governance, of the need for establishing a more dedicated staff with an executive director, two mission coordinators and an administrative assistant for daily office functions. As this organization has grown mostly by word-of-mouth, we feel that a modest public relations campaign would increase individual donations and involvement, inspire a larger volunteer base and build a vast potential for local collaborations with business and treatment facilities for support and sponsorship. Our immediate need is to gain capital support to take our efforts to the next level, an effective level that could cast itself outward to serve a growing population in need. The future has yet to be written but we are committed to being a part of the solution that this simple burden presents itself onto more and more medical patients around the nation.