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Hell or High Water - Melissa Neeley's Takeaway from the January Educational Luncheon

Wednesday, January 24, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Sheri Brown
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My Favorite Takeaways from January’s Educational Session

 

Through Hell & High Water

 

Before January’s Educational Session, which took place on January 19, 2018 at the Junior League of Houston, our community shut down for two days due to hazardous weather and road conditions. I couldn’t help but chuckle at this meme that was going around on social media:

 

 

Being a Florida native I couldn’t help but be a little giddy about getting two “Snow Days” this year. However, as I sat at home “iced-in” and watched the constant coverage of the weather on the news, I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to Hurricane Harvey. I couldn’t help but think of the deadly weather our city had endured over the past six months.

 

But after two days the ice finally melted, and I found myself panicking to catch up at work after the delay. My University of Houston NLA intern was starting this week. Friday was already the next day, and I had signed us all up to host a big Youth In Philanthropy event on Saturday. I thought I was too busy to follow through on attending the Educational Session, but seeing Mattress Mack – who I viewed as a real Houston Hero – was on my bucket list. Despite the at-work craziness, I went anyway… and I’m so glad I did.

 

“The Essence of Living is Giving” – Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale:

 

During January’s Educational Session, Mattress Mack first walked us through the weekend of Harvey. He slept the first night at Gallery Furniture anticipating the worst… But he said he slept quite well on a Tempur-Pedic mattress (the savvy salesman said he couldn’t help himself to reference the brand he’s most known for), and woke up thinking Houston may have missed the worst of Hurricane Harvey – a familiar feeling we all woke up to that morning.

 

The next night he decided to sleep at his home, and just like all of us woke up to the horrible news. Fighting a flood on his street, nearby roads underwater and cars driving down the interstates on the wrong side of the roads, Mattress Mack was alarmed. He quickly saw, heard about, and understood the devastation our city was facing. Mattress Mack immediately called his family and employees to tell them they were opening the stores to house evacuees, flood victims and those facing rough times during this 1,000-year flood.

 

When asked by our moderator, BakerRipley’s Director of Agency Relations Marc Levinson, why he immediately opened his doors to those in need, Mattress Mack responded with:

 

“I was just doing what I was taught by parents to do,” Mattress Mack said. “I was just doing what my brother, who is no longer with us, would want me to do. I was just doing what I would want my children to do. I was just doing what was right.”

 

One of my greatest takeaways from January’s Educational Session was that Mattress Mack still does not see himself as a hero. After sending trucks out to rescue people from their homes, to comforting hundreds of strangers as they came through his doors, all while his own family and friends were feeling the wrath of Harvey, Mattress Mack says he was just doing what was right.

 

“The essence of giving is living,” Mattress Mack said. It’s a motto he’s lived with his whole life. He believes good things will come back to those who do good things.

 

Hope for Houston

Mattress Mack provided us all in attendance hope. Hope for a stronger Houston, hope for fundraising and hope in philanthropists who believe in giving for all the right reasons.

           

            “We are Texans,” Mattress Mack said. “We are different.”

 

And I left really believing that, remembering that. Nowhere else would you hear a story about a stranger diving into floodwaters to save a truck-load of strangers. Nowhere else would hear about someone being sucked into a manhole, climbing out through a rushing current, skin ripped from their legs, and still trekking on to help those in need. Nowhere else. Houston is the most diverse, precious, and strong community – and it’s because of people like Mattress Mack.

 

Thank you, Mattress Mack. For recounting and reinforcing the resiliency of Texans. For leaving us all inspired by your humility, kindness and dedication to the motto, "The essence of living is giving." For being a real Houston Hero. Thank you.

 

About The Author

Melissa Neeley is the Development & Marketing Coordinator for Arms Wide Adoption Services, a Houston-based organization dedicated to building and sustaining strong, nurturing families for children who have endured abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Over the last five years of her fundraising career, Melissa has learned to be adaptable in positions where development was just one of the many hats she wore. Melissa earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Public Relations and Family, Youth & Community Sciences from the University of Florida with minors in Nonprofit Leadership and Business Administration. Melissa is currently serving as Co-Chair of Communications on the 2018 AFP Houston Board of Directors, where she is excited to better streamline AFP communications to members and fundraising professionals.

Comments...

Robert C. Dunlap says...
Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2018
I'm sorry to have missed this meeting. Thanks for sharing this awesome story of kindness!

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