Tina Melo left Houston in late August to watch the solar eclipse in Tennessee. That’s also where she watched Hurricane Harvey tear through Houston. Filled with survivor’s guilt, she returned to a damage-free home. She and her daughter signed up for a shift volunteering at St. Luke’s to support the Red Cross. Days later, the Red Cross moved on to the next location, and Tina went back to work, but there was so much more to be done. What else could she do?

Her childhood friend, Debra, called from Seattle where she sits on the board for the Jewish Federation. She was coming to Houston to support the Jewish Family Center with hurricane recovery and needed a place to stay. Tina opened her home and lent Debra a car. During her stay, Debra worked as a case manager for flood victims and volunteered with Nechama, a Jewish disaster relief organization that later partnered in Harvey recovery with St. Luke’s. The Jewish Family Center asked her stay longer and offered to pay for her hotel and car rental, but Tina continued to host Debra for a total of two months. Doing so allowed the Jewish Family Center to reallocate those funds to disaster relief.

Partnering in God’s work does not require sameness. The reality is, we live in one of the most diverse cities in the nation. A unified body doesn’t mean we ignore diversity; it means we embrace it. By working with people across faiths, we can learn how to better support each other. It’s how we recover.

Tina says, “Sometimes the opportunity to do ‘God’s work’ arrives in a totally unexpected way. In my case, a dear friend who had the chance to come to Houston to help and I happened to have an extra bedroom! And we just need to say yes and embrace and rejoice!”