In a season that is suppose to be about joy, giving and gratitude, thousands of Houstonians still dealing with the devastation from Hurricane Harvey are also coping with the stress of how to provide a traditional holiday experience for young children who may not understand the impact of the storm on family finances.
To help these struggling parents, the non-denominational religious service group, Interfaith Ministries, is organizing a panel discussion on the dual emotional impacts of Harvey and the holiday season.
Titled “The Impact of Harvey on the Holidays,” the event will be held Dec. 7 and feature religious leaders from various faiths, as well as local officials and mental health professionals.
Rev. Gregory Han, director of interfaith relations at Interfaith Ministries, is one of the organizers of the discussion. He told a Houston newspaper the event will address many of the emotions people have about the holiday season, and how Harvey still impacts the feelings surrounding it.
“There’s an overall expectation that people should be happy and festive and merry that transcends religion,” Han told the paper. “There’s an expectation of gift-giving. All of these pressures will be amplified by the losses that Harvey caused.”
Linda Burger, CEO of Jewish Family Service, also spoke on how the emotional effects of Harvey can linger into the holiday season.
“This year, the sadness and depression may be magnified due to the greater sense of loss,” Burger said. “The place where one normally celebrates the holidays may have been flooded. The items that tie one generation to another may have been destroyed by water.”
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For the Houstonians who got through the storm relatively unscathed, Burger recommends they reach out to their less-fortunate neighbors to offer meals, gifts or even just an ear to listen to their concerns and help alleviate their worries.
“The Impact of Harvey on the Holidays” will be held at the Interfaith Ministries facility at 3303 Main Street.