After Hurricane Harvey tore through Houston last year, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt The J.J. Watt Foundation released the results of its fundraising efforts on Monday, announcing it brought in $41.6 million for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund -- the largest crowd-funded fundraiser in history.
The donations went to eight nonprofits: Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and SBP.
The results are jarring. Per the foundation, over 600 homes have been cleaned up, repaired and rebuilt in the Houston area. Over 420 childcare centers and after-school programs have been recovered to serve over 16,000 children. Over 26 million meals have been distributed. Physical and mental health services have been provided to over 6,500 individuals. And over 10,000 patients have received medicine.
Watt also detailed plans for the future, which include more home restoration, continued physical and mental support and treatment, support to several food banks, helping hurricane resilience in the area, restoring Boys & Girls Clubs centers and repairing homes with Habitat for Humanity.
In a letter written by Watt, he reflected upon the past year.
As I reflect on the events of Hurricane Harvey one year ago, the memories of destruction and devastation remain, but they are accompanied by memories of hope, selflessness and the beauty of the human spirit. The actions of professional first responders and everyday citizens alike were an inspiration to the world and a shining example of the inherent good that lies within us all. Those actions locally were then supported by the actions of hundreds of thousands from around the world showing their support and donating their money in order to help out in any way they could. I was fortunate enough to witness that generosity first hand, as the fundraiser that I started with a simple goal of $200,000 turned into an unbelievable outpouring of support from people all around the globe. When it was all said and done, after the late donations and checks that came in after the deadline were counted, the total amount that was donated and is now hard at work in the community was $41.6 million. In the past year, those funds have been used to repair and rebuild houses, allowing people to finally return and once again have a place to call 'home'. Those funds have restored and rebuilt childcare centers so that parents can once again have a place to take their children where they know they will be safe, so that they can return to work and resume a sense of normalcy. Those funds have provided millions and millions of meals to people who weren't sure where their next meal might be coming from after being devastated by the storm. And those funds provided physical and mental health care to those who suffered from the events of that awful weekend one year ago. While a great deal has been accomplished in the past 12 months, there is still much work to be done. Moving forward, there will be more of the same, as we continue to work with our incredible nonprofit partners to provide as much help and support as we possibly can for those affected by Harvey. I cannot thank everyone enough for your support and generosity. You have truly provided an unbelievable example of what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing. Every time that I am fortunate enough to witness someone step back into their home for the first time or a child run around on the playground again, I am reminded of the generosity of strangers that helped make it all possible. Thank you and never stop spreading the positivity! #HoustonStrong
All of this comes six months after Watt was asked where the money was going on Twitter. He responded at the time, saying that it was a big project that took time, adding that he and his foundation are "doing the best we can."
There are 2.3 million people in Houston alone, Kim. I apologize that we aren’t able to reach every single person, it’s simply not possible. We’ve rebuilt homes & day cares, provided food & medical care and our work is far from finished! I promise we’re doing the best we can!!! https://t.co/X0Uj8chCRu— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 28, 2018
Watt was honored with the, after initially setting out to raise $200,000 in relief. It's safe to say that what ensued surpassed everyone's expectations.