The title of American Hero is not thrown around lightly here at American Hat Makers. It is reserved for those who act selflessly to improve the world around them under any circumstance. The title of American Hero belongs to those who have a vision for what they can do to help others around them, tirelessly working to do their absolute best to provide for those in need. Melissa and Paul Getter exceed this criteria.
Paul is a pastor at New Life church in Naples, Florida, and partnered with Melissa they perform great work, endlessly carrying a message of love and support to the community around them. Based in Florida, they were in the direct path of the devastating Hurricane Irma, which wreaked utter havoc around them. However, weeks before Hurricane Irma made landfall, another devastating storm, Hurricane Harvey, was putting Texas through the wringer.
Aware of the need for humanitarian outreach during such a hectic time, Paul and Melissa started collecting donations in support of helping Texas. Having access to a warehouse chock-full of basic supplies, they were able to send no less than 8 truckloads of supplies to support Texas.
When asked about the reason behind their selfless acts they elaborated that they live their lives with a “servant’s heart”. They say that when they have the ability and resources to help, they are obligated to step up to the plate and do their part. They say that anytime they can be of help, it’s an ultimately gratifying feeling being able to pass on kind actions, in order to start the cycle of good deeds in their community. Several weeks after doing this outreach, the gravity of the situation about to effect them reared it’s ugly head. Hurricane Irma, the most devastating Atlantic hurricane in the last 10 years, was about to make landfall in Florida. Evacuation orders were issued across the state, and a state of emergency was declared.
Now they were the ones in need of support. Paul and Melissa were fortunate enough to have a house that was up to the code of withstanding a hurricane, however many of the members of their church were in dangerous flooding area, or had wood frame homes which were no match for a storm of this magnitude. Rather than direct their focus solely on themselves in this dangerous time, Paul and Melissa opened their home to those in need of shelter, and ended up protecting 25 members of their community within their home. I asked them what worried them most during this time, and setting aside their own needs, Paul and Melissa were most worried and focused on the safety of those they were providing for, and the task of getting all of their needs met. Melissa said she felt like a mama bear during this time, fiercely protecting those around her. After the intensity of the storm subsided and they were able to get their bearings, the work started to remedy the destruction around them. The organizations they partnered with in order to help Texas provided supplies right back and helped the Getter’s get their feet back on the ground.
It took quite a bit of time until relative normalcy was restored in the community, and due to the fact that cell service and landlines were down, communication was almost non-existent. The Getter’s were fortunate enough to have power restored to their home relatively quickly, while many of those around them had to endure the near 100 degree weather with no power, or very little power from gas generators. Once again they opened their home to anyone in need. After getting a foothold back in the community, word came in of the absolute devastation many Caribbean islands were experiencing. Never missing a chance to do their part, the Getter’s set out to see what they could do to help support those affected greatest by the hurricane. They once again had a warehouse full of supplies, but the task of getting them out of Florida and into the hands of those who needed it in Puerto Rico was daunting. Paul and Melissa started brainstorming of the possibilities and finally turned to social media to search for any way that they could undertake their mission. A group of individuals with the same idea of helping Puerto Rico was formed on FaceBook, and Paul connected with someone who told him that he had 8 private jets flying to and from Puerto Rico each day, shuttling refugees away from the areas most affected. They said that if Paul could get the supplies to the airport, they would gladly take them on board and over to Puerto Rico. At first, Paul had absolutely no idea where the airport was, and assumed that getting the supplies there would be a huge task on it’s own. After conversing further about the possibility of flying the supplies over to Puerto Rico, it was revealed that the airport was only about 3 miles away from Paul’s warehouse. Immediately the Getter’s jumped into action and transported their warehouse full of supplies over to the airport where they were then flown to Puerto Rico to those in need.
The Getter’s are a family of individuals who would never miss an opportunity to lend a hand to those in need. Who knows just how many individuals their selfless actions positively impacted during this time? If you learn one thing from the Getter’s it’s that any action taken to help another, will be returned to you tenfold.