The Texas Coast is a place most of us grew up going to with our family and friends since childhood. Fishing the flats in Aransas Pass, catching big reds in Rockport, drinking cold beer by the jetties in Port Aransas, and driving through the surrounding coastal towns to check out local life. Visiting the area has been our family tradition since many of us were born. What was once our beachy paradise, Hurricane Harvey has made a mess of. Our bait shops, eateries, stores, homes, hotels, and everything that contributes to our coastal home away from city life is now a disaster area. What’s even worse is our coastal community that we have developed long-term relationships with have lost their homes and all their belongings. Being left without water and electricity; pictures may show you the destruction Harvey has caused but, when you are standing in the middle of it and listen to the locals tell you all they have experienced firsthand, your emotions will instantly go all over the place.
Born and raised in the Southside of San Antonio, one thing I can say about my community is, family is EVERYTHING. Whether you grew up in the area or not, if you are friends or family of someone who is, you are automatically included in everything; the more the merrier. Still residing in the area, one thing I take to heart is being supportive of those I grew up with; especially when they have supported me in my own personal and business endeavors. My amigo, fellow business owner and South San Bobcat, Gabe “Iron Q’ Bondoc felt something more needed to be done for our beloved Texas Coast and its locals. He wanted to bring positivity, hope, and good spirits to the locals, provide some reassurance that life after Hurricane Harvey will get better along with getting a nice warm meal in their bellies. When he mentioned the idea to his circle of friends, immediately they were ready to support it. The chef, along with friends and family, began by pitching in money out of their own pockets for food and supplies to get the ball rolling. He shared on his Facebook page tagging his circle of friends and family so that they may spread the word about his idea of providing hot meals for the locals of the Texas Coast. Those who were hyped up to help also began sharing on social media. I don’t think Chef Iron Q expected the power of friendship, social media, and his natural leadership skills would lead him to having such a grand response and supportive team.
What was originally going to be the chef along with a few friends cooking for Harvey evacuees, turned into something that has touched many lives. Through sharing on social media, people from California, Oregon, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Idaho, and Colorado made contributions to the relief. Many local companies also donated large amounts of food, supplies, and condiments. The first relief stop was in Rockport, Texas. Lead by Texas Chrome Transport, over 32 trucks, cars, and trailers filled will food, water, ice chests, BBQ pits, canopies, tables, and chairs made their way to feed the city of Rockport. There was even a moonbounce for the children. Gabe is a chef by trade and owns a BBQ and catering business in San Antonio. He has years of 5-star hotel experience and makes the best brisket you will ever taste! One of the most impressive things about the relief was how smoothly and well-coordinated it was. Every volunteer had to sign-in as they were clocking in, gloves were worn, and there was a wash station. As hot as it was, everyone remained joyful as they served the community of Rockport, workers, and people passing through. Day 2, the relief went to Refugio, Texas. With a few technical difficulties in the morning, a rainstorm lingering around throughout the day, and an unexpected visit by the Texas Heath and Human Services, the Refugio community got served fresh hamburgers and hot-dogs just as Rockport did. 56 volunteers joined Chef Iron Q in Rockport and about 30 in Refugio. People who aren’t from Texas talk about our coast’s murky waters, dark sand, and mention how it’s far from paradise. But if you are from Texas, the coast is exactly that. Paradise. We as Texans, are proud of our coast. Many of us have the fondest childhood (and adulthood) memories from there. Not only am I proud of my state and its coastline, I am proud of my community, and my friend who motivated all of us to help others in a time of need. Most of us who joined the relief this weekend is from the Southside of San Antonio. We are hard-working family oriented people. As a community and the expertise of our chef leader, I feel like we made a difference in people’s lives; including our own. We are all overwhelmed with so many emotions. I felt honored to be a part of so many people being fed by my community and as a writer, how could I not share this story. Thank you to everyone who contributed, donated, shared, and joined in on helping our fellow Texans enjoy hot meals this weekend. There is still so much to be done. In the words of Chef Iron Q, (which happens to be a hashtag) “Don’t talk about it, be about it!”. Also, don’t forget about our smaller coastal towns, they need us too. A shout-out to all who have provided water, clothes, school supplies, and necessities to our Texas Coast; seeing so much selflessness proves there are still warm-hearted people in the world. #TexasStrong
Click here to join the Texas Coastal Relief Group.