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How do Strong Social and Community Ties Impact your Health?

I called my friend, also named Lisa, who lives in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey’s devastation had not only hit Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, but many communities in the Gulf Coast region. According to my friend, who lives on the north side of Houston where they got no flooding except for those who were near a river or large body of water, the worst of the rain is over. People are leaving shelters scattered thought-out Harris County, where Houston is located.

Out of the 6.5 million people in the greater Houston area only about 1.5 million lost power and most all the water is drinkable. No need for ice, a valuable commodity, for many of us here in Charleston who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Hugo. Unlike Houston, Hurricane Hugo, also a category 4 storm, was a direct hit and as a result we not only got the flooding but also high winds. But no one can deny that the Houston area experienced the worst flooding in its history, with some areas getting as much as 50 inches of rain. And because Hurricane Harvey’s devastation was so widespread, it will take years for the region to recover from this natural disaster.

My friend, Lisa, who is originally from Charleston, knows about hurricanes and the emotional roller coaster they bring; the anxiety before the storm of not knowing exactly what is going to happen, the storm itself, the flooding and aftermath once the storm has passed. No doubt, you too, no matter where you call home, are aware of the horrific situation the residents of the Gulf Coast region, north of Brownsville, Texas, are now experiencing. Lives have been lost, people displaced and the uncertainty of what’s ahead. It is one thing to watch the news again and again and be reminded of the destruction and the anguish. But to just absorb the information without acting when we can help can be paralyzing and emotionally harmful. So I asked Lisa to suggest a few vetted and creditable charities in the Houston area that need our help:

Animals as well need help and assistance. Donate to the Houston Humane Society, which is helping animals affected by the storm. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, is another charity. You may also want to check out Charity Navigator to further ensure your donations are helping those in need.

By helping those in need, you too can benefit. Studies have shown that people with strong social and community ties tend to live longer, are less likely to report being depressed, and have a stronger a sense of belonging, purpose and self worth.

Are you over 50, feeling socially isolated and/or trying to figure out your life’s purpose for the second half? Let’s talk.

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