This month, we caught up with Daniel Ayala, territory manager at EMPLOYERS, to discuss his recent community service efforts.
When Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast, Daniel Ayala was at the ready to help the communities that were devastated by the hurricane. After sending out nearly 50 emails to co-workers, friends, family and customers to confirm they were okay and asking what supplies they needed, Daniel loaded his truck with non-perishables and made his way to Rockport, Texas. Over the course of the next few days, he helped clear away fallen trees, hand out food and supplies, and clean-up lawns. After he returned home to San Antonio, Daniel joined the American Red Cross and volunteers at a local shelter where he served evacuees breakfast and helped stock the food shelves.
What prompted you to help with the search and rescue efforts in Texas following Hurricane Harvey?
I came from a big, Texas family. We are all the type of people who roll up our sleeves and get to work. I think that’s just how Texans are. If something happens in our community or our state, we all go help.
When I saw that the Hurricane was going to hit Rockport and the Gulf Coast, it really pulled at my heartstrings. I fish in Rockport and have friends and coworkers all along the Gulf Coast. Even though I’m back in San Antonio now, I said to myself, “I’m going to keep going down until it is cleaned up.”
What was the most impactful moment of the experience for you?
I’m amazed by the amount of people who came from all over the country to help. I remember this one day I looked down the main strip in Rockport and just saw hundreds of people cleaning up the area. There were free water bottle stations along the road, people were passing out free canned goods, and businesses were delivering free pizza. Everyone had the same goal: to clean everything up and get it back to normal. Rockport is just a small, fishing and tourism community, and it looked like someone dropped a bomb on it. The cute cottages you dream about one day owning – they didn’t exist anymore. The huge oak trees with thousands of leaves were bare and uprooted. But people weren’t looking at that. I think your mindset changes to one of determination in situations like this – you don’t look at it, you just take care of it.
Do you believe volunteering is an important activity for people to engage in?
People listen to horrible things on the radio and watch it on TV, but very few go out and help. The next time something like this happens, put yourself in the shoes of someone on the other side. Texans are very prideful people, but those same people were hit by the hurricane and are incredibly thankful for our help because they lost everything. If you are thinking about helping, just go do it. Volunteer work not only helps those in need, but also instills appreciation and gratitude in your own life.