Lifelong friends find courage, determination through Hurricane Harvey disaster

by John Holt on Mar 09, 2018

in Our KIPPsters, Team & Family

Jonatan Meza and Jay Ramirez (pictured L to R) are KIPPsters at KIPP Northeast College Preparatory, and have known each other since they were 2-years-old. In August 2017, they lived one of their most painful moments together, surviving one of the most powerful storms to ever hit Houston. Through the challenges they faced during Hurricane Harvey, these young men demonstrated strength and unwavering determination. They supported one another and leaned on their KIPP Team and Family for help as well. During our Team & Family reunion on February 1, Jonatan and Jay courageously shared with us their Harvey experience. Below are some of the most noteworthy quotes from their speech. 

Jay Ramirez:

“We weren’t ready, but you can’t really prepare to lose everything you have.” 

More than 1,400 KIPP families, staff, and alumni were impacted by the storm.

“I hadn’t really taken it seriously, but all it took was one hour to turn my room into a lake. Getting out into the water was rough. It was cold, really cold. The kind of cold that makes you forget what being warm felt like, like you were always cold and just didn’t know it.” 

“We still had teachers and people trying to reach out to us, but at that point we knew they couldn’t really do anything. It kind of felt like they knew it too. But they didn’t stop reaching out, letting us know they were there.”

Free food pantries were established at all 11 KIPP Houston campuses, while team members from KIPP Austin, KIPP New Jersey, KIPP New York, and KIPP San Antonio all visited and provided help.    

“Some of us have to deal with stuff we never thought we’d have to deal with. Some of us are used to living out of motels now; we’re used to travel sized shampoos and conditioners. Some of us are used to wearing donated clothes, a little too big or too small. We’re grateful for everything. We’re grateful to everyone.”

“We know what a team is, and we know what family means. But we never really connected the two until after the storm, when we saw the people at our school come together like a team, and love each other like a family.”

When a teammate needs help, we give. This KIPPism proved to be immensely true for  those in our region throughout Hurricane Harvey.   

Jonatan Meza:

“The only thing tougher than the day we had to leave our houses was the day we came back. It looked like we’d gotten robbed. The water had receded, and misplaced everything. Everything was turned over, nothing was where it should have been. Things that had been in the living room were in the kitchen. Our family table was overturned, and it took three of us to get it into its position in the dining room.”

“We’re thankful for everything the community and KIPP, in particular, has done for us.”

Jonatan & Jay’s story is one among many of our Team & Family members affected by the storm. We applaud them for their perseverance and thank them for being brave enough to share their stories. 

To watch Jay and Jonatan’s speech in its entirety, please click here