Photo Black Friday

So, how are you spending your Black Friday? Have you hit up the doorbuster sales, or are you choosing to avoid the shops and spend a little time in nature? Or are you decorating for the holidays?

I personally can't wait to get some decorating done this weekend, and hopefully getting our tree!

As I'm currently in an airport en route back home, I'm thankful for the time I got to spend in nature this past week. It's been a nice break from the day-to-day routines, and I'm feeling recharged for the holidays.


How is your Thanksgiving break going so far? Let me know in the comments!
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Happy Thanksgiving from Eco Cajun!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I hope you are all having a joyous holiday, however you may be celebrating.

There's so much negativity in the world that can consume us, but today, think about what you're thankful for. There's still a lot of good, immediately around you and all over the world.


Every year, I say I'm thankful for all of you who read and follow along, and most importantly, follow eco-friendly principles in your own life. I'm thankful for the environment and everything it gives to us, and I'm thankful for those who are dedicated to protecting the environment.


In case you missed it last week, check out some tips on how to celebrate Thanksgiving and the following big shopping days sustainably!

Now, back to prepping for Thanksgiving dinner!
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Stretching the Life of Candles

My husband and I love to keep a year-round supply of candles in the house, so we pretty often have a collection of candles that are almost-fully burned out.

But instead of throwing out glass jars that have a little bit of wax left in them, my husband has embraced an awesome repurposing project - combining the wax to make new layered candles!


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Photo Friday | Why Are You Littering?

I know we're all gearing up for holiday mode, so I'll keep it short and sweet today!

A few weeks back on Instagram, Polly from Green Indy Blog shared this sign from NICHES Land Trust in Indiana. The organization works to protect public lands in their area, and recently put up new signs for litter prevention.


NICHES' mission is to protect, restore and sustain northern Indiana’s ecosystems by providing habitat for native species and offering natural places for education, appreciation and enjoyment of current and future generations.

I'm quite a fan of snark, and this sign makes me laugh every time I see it. It's sadly true, and hopefully it makes people stop and think a minute about why they may be littering. Thank you to NICHES for bringing a little humor to a serious problem!


If you're gearing up for some Thanksgiving week travel, I hope you have a safe and fun time. Be patient and be thankful this week. :)

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Planning Your Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Weekend

Are you guys ready for Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday season? Yeah, me either. The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, and while the 2017 holidays will be very bittersweet for me, I'm choosing to focus my efforts into the things I love. I'm so ready to put our Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving!


I've got some fun content planned out for the holiday season - be sure to come back the week after Thanksgiving to check out some new holiday shopping gift guides! I'm so excited to share some eco-friendly and fair trade gift ideas for anyone on your list.

But first, let's talk about how to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving.

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America Recycles Day 2017

Happy America Recycles Day! Every year on November 15, Keep America Beautiful puts the spotlight on the importance of recycling.

While it's important to reduce and reuse first, recycling is a better way to handle items that we already have.

There are thousands of local events planned across the country today and all month long, but even if you only take a few minutes out of your day, you can celebrate individually.





http://www.americarecyclesday.org

  • Take the pledge to recycle a particular product, maybe one you don't recycle now. 

  • Recycle as much as you possibly can! Especially on November 15, make it the highest priority. If you collect your recycling inside, make sure to bring everything to your outside bin or community dumpster for pickup.
  • Bring any plastic shopping bags to a recycling collection point. Many local grocery stores have a bin for plastic bag recycling. 
  • Grab some bags and get outside. Use your lunch break to go on a litter hunt and pick up and recycle as much as you can, or take a walk after work to clean up the neighborhood.
  • Take your children around the neighborhood to clean up litter, and teach them about the importance of recycling in the process! In the spirit of the day, make sure to recycle anything that can be recycled, from plastic bottles, to cans, to cardboard. Don't just throw all the litter into the trash can.
  • Offer to recycle for others - whether your office or neighbors. Offer to take any of their recyclable waste and put it out for pickup. At work, go around to everyone's desks and offer to collect any recyclable waste, or leave a special bin for them that you can pick up later.
The first version of my office recycling bin, back in 2014!
  • Visit the America Recycles Day website and look for a recycling event in your area. There are 2,460 registered events across the country! This year, there are no organized events in Louisiana, but don't let it stop you from doing something on your own.
  • Share the message with everyone! Let your friends and family know about America Recycles Day and encourage them to participate too.

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Photo Friday | Cleanup Before & After

Before last Saturday's Better Block Johnston Street in Lafayette, Project Front Yard hosted the Downtown Deep Clean Block Party. While most of the focus was on mulching the flower beds along Jefferson Street, a few of us concentrated on cleaning up litter. One parking lot in particular was in dire need of a cleanup.


  

The Saturday morning after Halloween week is quite the interesting time to be cleaning up litter. In addition to the usual suspects of liquor and beer bottles, straws and cigarette butts, I found a lot of fun size candy wrappers and even a pair of vampire teeth.


Because I go out about once a year, I hadn't noticed Jefferson Street Pub's clearly recent mulch and flower bed project until now. I'm a fan of red mulch, and the flowers added a beautiful pop of color to the sidewalk, brick building, and parking lot background. However, the cigarette butts aren't helping any matters here. (Five seconds later, they were in my trash bag.)


I know it's odd, but I honestly enjoy picking up litter. It feels so productive, and you can immediately see the benefits of your work. The flip side is the knowledge that your work usually won't last for 24 hours. With the amount of bars downtown, I know this parking lot didn't remain this clean come Sunday morning.

But we'll keep on keeping on fighting to keep our community clean!
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Style for Social Good | Sseko Designs

One of my new year's resolutions for 2017 was to really focus on making sustainable style choices. I'll be posting a full recap of my year next month, but today, I'm excited to share a little about one of the brands I've discovered!


Sseko Designs focuses on providing work to women in Uganda, enabling them to earn money to go toward a college education. Sseko products are all made in Africa and create jobs, empower artisans and help end the cycle of poverty by building healthy communities and economies.

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Photo Friday | Upcoming Events in Lafayette

If you're looking for a fun way to get involved in Lafayette, November is your month! There are already a lot of sustainability-focused events on the schedule, so I'll give you a quick roundup. Click each event name to go straight to the Facebook event page.

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A Tour of Tee Tiny Houses

As I teased in Friday's blog post, and on my Instagram over the weekend, my husband and I got to tour a tiny house built locally in Arnaudville, Louisiana.


The weather was absolutely perfect for a 20-mile drive out of Lafayette, after Friday evening's rainy weather cleared out and my first pot of gumbo for the season was put away in 309 containers.

We bundled up in comfy clothing, finished our first cups of coffee, and headed out along Louisiana's scenic by-ways.

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Photo Friday | Tee Tiny Houses Open House

A few months ago, I shared some construction photos of a tiny house from Tee Tiny Houses. Check out that blog post here! The Arnaudville, Louisiana-based company has been hard at work building their model tiny house, and tomorrow, they're showing off the completed home!


It is a special treat for us to welcome you to visit our first complete, custom tiny home. On Saturday, October 28th, join us anytime between 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. to see our first tricked-out Tee Tiny House at our facility at 1056B Coteau Rodaire Hwy., Arnaudville, LA 70512.

In addition to a tour, we will also have information on hand for all five of our tiny house models that are available for construction and can answer any questions you may have about a custom build. Hope to see you there!

Visiting the tiny home, even while it was still under construction, was a really fun experience. My husband and I always talk about living in a tiny home, but we had never actually physically stood in one before! It was really interesting to actually get the feel of being in a tiny house, and I'm looking forward to seeing the completed home tomorrow. I'm curious if it will truly give us the envie to go tiny!


Want to check out this tiny house for yourself?

View the Facebook event.

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Sustainable Tricks and Treats

Halloween, with its mountains of candy being given away, is definitely not a holiday that embraces eco-friendly principles.

Without avoiding the holiday and its parties and activities altogether, there are ways you can be mindful and a little more sustainable. 


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Photo Friday | One Year

It is hard to believe that my one year wedding anniversary is this Sunday. One year ago tonight was our rehearsal dinner, and about the time everything finally seemed real. Kind of like when you're a kid and Christmas Eve finally arrives and you can't believe it's actually happening.

Truthfully, it doesn't feel like an entire year has passed, although so much life has happened in these past 365 days. Just like everyone, we've had the high moments and the low moments. Most days are full of bills and chores rather than epic adventures. But we're in it together and that makes every day worth it. Year one is still only the beginning!


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My Meditation Journey

Sometimes, a more sustainable lifestyle forays into health and wellness. Taking care of yourself is important for many aspects of your life, and self-care effects often cross over into other arenas, like your job(s), volunteer efforts, and family.

I've written before about my love of/obsession with yoga (here and here), but over the past few months, I've dived into the world of guided meditation. And it's been pretty amazing so far.


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Photo Friday | Update on the Junk Mail Situation

This past May, I wrote a blog post on how you can tackle your mountain of junk mail by opting out of being included on mailing lists.


It doesn't take too much time to complete the online forms, and although some services do cost, it's not expensive (and worth it, in my opinion.)

Not long before I wrote the post, I used the links to opt myself out of mailing lists. #PracticeWhatYouPreach And over the past few months, I've noticed that the amount of junk mail we receive has actually dwindled!

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Recap: Project Front Yard 2017 Awards

October is always a busy month for community events, and one of my favorite October events is the Project Front Yard awards. The fourth annual award presentation was held last week at IBERIABANK in Downtown Lafayette. (Check out my recaps of 2014, 2015 and 2016's presentations!)


This year, four awards were given out for Cleanliness, Beautification, Education and Overall Effort. Cleanliness, beautification and education are the three pillars of Project Front Yard's mission, and are what drive every initiative under Project Front Yard.

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Photo Friday | Festivals Acadiens' Commitment to Sustainability

Festivals Acadiens is just ONE week away! The festival is held in the middle of every October at Girard Park in Lafayette (this year, October 13-15), and focuses on Acadiana's French heritage and culture. The weather is usually amazing for some music, dancing, food and shopping!

Photo courtesy Festivals Acadiens et Creoles

Above all that, what I love about Festivals Acadiens is its commitment to sustainability. The grounds always have a ton of recycling bins (Last year I wrote about the 150 ways to be green at FAetC.)

This year, Festivals Acadiens has announced its plans and strategy to become the greenest festival in the state of Louisiana by 2018.



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Switching to Eco-Friendly Haircare

Prior to my wedding last year (which: wow, our first anniversary is in 19 freaking days!), I focused on greening my beauty routine. I swapped out my makeup with vegan-friendly brands that don't contain harsh chemicals. I also invested in a great natural face mask, which I still use and love.

One area where I haven't been so focused is hair care. I've tried a few different brands over the years, but never stuck with one diligently.

I have color-treated, very thick and naturally wavy (and frizzy in the summer) hair, and I can be picky about which shampoos and conditioners work best for me.


Maple Holistics recently reached out to me, asking if I'd like to try a bottle of their Tea Tree Oil shampoo, and I excitedly agreed. After visiting the company's site and reading about their values and commitment to better ingredients, I was interested in trying a new shampoo.

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Photo Friday | Updates to Lafayette's Recycling Service

I love when my community has positive recycling/environmental news to share - it's great for the city and it's great for blog content.

This week, Lafayette City-Parish Councilwoman Liz Webb Hebert made an announcement on her Facebook page that made me look like these GIFs:




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Green Business Spotlight | Busy Beaver Button Co.


Last year, when we were packing for Hawaii, I repurposed a button holder to accommodate one of my few Eco Cajun branded stickers, and toted it throughout our vacation. It worked well for the most part, although the button holder came undone a few times, causing me to almost lose the sticker. Y'all know I could not bear the thought of creating any litter!


Earlier this year, I contemplated other ideas besides stickers to print my logo on. Iron-on patches weren't cost-effective at all, so I looked at having real buttons made. In keeping with my own brand and my personal style goals of shopping sustainably, I looked for a company that has eco-friendly values.
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Photo Friday | Bayou Teche Trash Bash and Boogie

Now that fall is officially here, it's a great time to get outdoors! Getting out on the area waterways is a popular weekend activity - especially kayaking on Lake Martin, Bayou Vermilion or Bayou Teche.

This weekend, if you have a hankering to get on the water, you can do so while helping to clean up!

Tomorrow morning, the TECHE Project is hosting its regular Trash Bash and Boogie event, starting at 9am in Port Barre.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1884236958563490/


It is that time of year again as we get the Bayou Teche ready for the hundreds of paddlers from around the country to come and explore our beautiful water way. We are happy to announce our annual Trash Bash and Boogie, to be held at the start of the Bayou Teche in Port Barre on September 23.

As usual, the TECHE Project will have everything you need to have a successful cleanup. Bags, gloves, pickers, and boats! What would a TECHE Project event be without food, music, and beer (also other drinks for the youngsters)

The Trash Bash and Boogie is a family friendly event. If you have a group or organization interested in helping we would love to have you. We hope that you join us to make our Bayou Teche a cleaner, healthier place for people to work and play! 

Volunteers at previous Trash Bash events have helped to clean up hundreds of pounds of trash out of Bayou Teche, the only waterway in Louisiana to be designated by the National Park Service as a National Waterway Trail.

https://www.facebook.com/bayou.teche.1/photos/a.1603832079749823.1073741828.1603815503084814/1904961772970184/?type=3
Photo courtesy TECHE Project

Photo courtesy TECHE Project

TECHE Project has been a great ally to Eco Cajun over the past few years - I always love visiting with volunteer Dane Thibodeaux at the Vermilionville Earth Day events, and I'm working with him now to go on a bayou cruise and see firsthand some of the work TECHE Project does.

Photo courtesy TECHE Project

The event tomorrow is sure to be an enjoyable time - round up the family and head on out to Port Barre to help clean up Bayou Teche!

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Green Business Spotlight | Mow Green Lawn Service

Gardening and yard work can be equated with living a nature-loving, eco-friendly lifestyle, but sometimes, the tools used for them are anything but eco-friendly.

Most lawnmowers, weed eaters and leaf blowers require gasoline and oil to run, and depending on the size of your yard, it can get expensive to fuel, especially during the summer when it seems like mowing is required every other day.

However, there are eco-friendly alternatives to lawn care equipment.

Photo courtesy Mow Green Lawn Service

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Photo Friday | Inspiration

One of my goals for the blog this year was to write a lot of new content for y'all, and behind the scenes, I've been working on a schedule for the rest of the year. I'm so excited about what's coming up!

But I also would love to hear from y'all - is there a topic you're interested in learning more about? How to recycle certain items, more about reducing waste/minimalism, more sustainable style or home goods?

Comment on this post with your thoughts or questions, and I'll be happy to answer you and add some requested topics to my schedule!


Hope you all have a great September weekend! If you're out and about in Lafayette today, visit Downtown Lafayette to see all the great parklets, and enjoy the season's first Downtown Alive! Don't forget your reusable DTA cup!

http://www.ecocajun.com/2015/04/sustainable-downtown-alive.html

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All About Parklets

A few weeks back, I wrote about the upcoming PARK(ing) Day events in Lafayette.

PARK(ing) day is an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into public “PARK(ing)” spaces. A handful of Downtown Lafayette metered parking spaces will be transformed into interesting, vibrant public spaces. 

But what exactly are parklets and what is their goal?

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Photo Friday | A Hint of Fall

On the heels of Harvey, and as we watch Irma make its way closer to Florida, a cool front came to the Gulf Coast region, giving us a much-welcomed break in the heat, humidity and rain.

The timing of it couldn't be better, especially now that Labor Day has passed. I'm pretty sure the entire region went fall-crazy this week, myself included. Who cares if the crisp evenings and mornings are only here until next Wednesday? The wreath on my front door now has mums instead of daisies, the autumn-scented candles are out, and my decorative pumpkins are on full display.


This week, I had a lunch meeting, and it coincidentally was at a restaurant with outdoor seating. Best lunch meeting I've had in a long time, for sure. The breeze was perfect, the food was great, and the waitress did not bring me a plastic straw!

I regularly get comments on social media asking where my straws are from. The particular set I have is from Amazon, and came with six straws and a cleaning brush. They've been one of the best investments I've made all year (read my original blog post on my straw switch), and my husband even gets in on avoiding plastic straws when we dine out. I always have more than one straw in my purse so we're covered when we need.

And I've only almost forgotten my straw at a restaurant once so far!


This week, I also jumped right in to drinking pumpkin spice coffee, but in an almost zero-waste way. Instead of hitting the coffee shop drive thru, I brew a couple cups at home and bring my coffee to work in my reusable mug. Although it's cliche, the flavor has really hit the spot.

The picture above is from last fall, when I did visit a coffee shop for a pumpkin spice fix, but I had them use my reusable mug instead of a disposable cup. I think it was actually hotter that day than it's been this week! Check out that original blog post.

How are you spending this first weekend of pre-autumn?

And to all my friends in Florida and along the East Coast, please, please, please stay safe this weekend as Irma gets closer!
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How You Can Reuse Glass Containers at Home or the Office

A few weeks back, my column in the Times of Acadiana looked at creative ways to reuse glass containers...in "honor" of the fact that Lafayette no longer takes glass in curbside recycling.

It's always important to try to reuse items as much as possible before throwing them out. Especially with glass jars or containers, they can withstand being reused for a long time before they need to be discarded.

Recycled and painted bottle vase at Taco Sisters Freetown

Most of the glass containers found in homes come from pasta sauce jars, spice jars, baby food jars, candles, mason jars, and beer, wine and oil bottles. Forget buying new glass jars for storage purposes — reuse what you’ve probably already got!

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Photo Friday | Kicking Off September

This Photo Friday will be a little bit of a recap of the past week.

To start off, I'm continuing to update my list of ways to help Harvey victims. If you're in the Acadiana area, United Way of Acadiana is holding their Flood the Love donation drive through tomorrow. Go here to see what items they are accepting.


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Clear Bag Policies | How to Be Stadium-Compliant AND Sustainable?

First things first, check out my blog post from Monday, which has been updated with more ways you can donate to Harvey relief efforts in Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

With all of the focus on Harvey over the past week, it's hard to think that the college football season is about to kick off. My alma mater, UL Lafayette, has its first home game this Saturday. This year, they're joining in on the clear bag policy that's been part of the NFL and other universities for a little while now. (If you need the UL Lafayette clear bag policy and guidelines, go here.)


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Updated: How to Help Those Affected by Harvey

Being so close to Texas, and with Louisiana potentially in Harvey's crosshairs this week, the devastation is all I can think about. After the historic flooding in Lafayette and Baton Rouge last August, it's even more heartbreaking to watch Texas go through the same thing. The emotions are still so raw for so many in South Louisiana who have recovered and are still recovering from last year.

We have a lot of family and friends in Texas and southwest Louisiana, and my heart goes out to everyone dealing with the unthinkable.


Via Busted Tees


No matter how near or far you are to Houston, southeast Texas, and southwest Louisiana, there are ways you can help the thousands of families affected, flooded and displaced.

Note: This list was last updated on September 1, 2017.


American Red Cross

Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Austin Pets Alive!

The organization says it has transported over 235 animals to its shelter since Saturday morning. How can you lend a hand? Make a donation, foster or adopt a pet, or volunteer. Find out more here. (Via NBC News)

Humane Society

Donate online here.

Salvation Army

Donate online here.

Texas Diaper Bank

Donate online here.

Food Bank of Corpus Christi

Donate online here.

Greater Houston Community Foundation

Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund online.

United Way of Greater Houston

Donate online here or text UWFLOOD to 41444.

United Way of Mid-South Jefferson County

The offices for this branch of United Way, covering Port Arthur, are currently closed due to the flooding, but you can donate online here.

United Way of Beaumont and North Jefferson County

Donate online to the Harvey Disaster Relief here.

United Way of Orange County (Texas)

Their offices are closed until further notice, but you can donate online here.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge

Broadmoor United Methodist Church is collecting supplies to send to Texas. Items can be purchased and taken to Broadmoor or purchased online and shipped to 10230 Mollylea Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70815. You can also purchase items through Amazon at and have items 2-day shipped.

Catholic Charities USA

Catholic Charities USA, a Catholic social service organization, is seeking donations to help those who have been affected by Harvey. The group has set up a website devoted to Harvey relief. You can also text CCUSADISASTER to 71777 to donate. (Via WBRZ)

Cajun Navy

The Cajun Navy is accepting donation of essential items (non-perishable food, water, baby items (already mixed formula, food, diapers), cleaning supplies, etc.) No clothing, toys, etc. Donations are being accepted at Bead Busters and Float Rentals, 2034 Bonin Rd, Youngsville. These items will be collected by the Cajun Navy and delivered to flood victims in Texas and wherever it is needed. (Via KATC)

Local Food Banks

The Houston Press has compiled a list of food banks in the affected area, including Houston Food Bank, Galveston County Food Bank, Corpus Christi Food Bank, Southeast Texas Food Bank, and more. They recommend contacting a food bank directly about their need and what you can do. (Via Vox)

Donate Blood

The American Red Cross, and Houston organizations Carter BloodCare and the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center are accepting blood donations.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana

(As of August 30, 2017) Volunteer at the shelter set up at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

Text HARVEY to 41444 to donate to this United Way chapter.

American Red Cross + Google

Donate to the Red Cross through this link, and Google will match all donations.

NOLA Pay It Forward Fund

Activated by the Mayor of New Orleans in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the NOLA Pay It Forward Fund: Hurricane Harvey will provide resources for the early relief and rebuilding efforts of those communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Episcopal Relief & Development

Donate online here.

Acadian Companies Employee Relief Fund

A group very dear to me, many medics worked throughout the storm (and continue to work after the storm) to help others, even as they lost their own homes. Donate online here.

Other Ways to Help


Flood Relief Tips



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