Cleaning Up After Harvey: GoodRx Helps Houston

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Doug Hirsch
Doug is co-founder of GoodRx.
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Team GoodRx at NRG Stadium in Houston

Team GoodRx at NRG Stadium in Houston

Nobody ever said doing good deeds would be easy.

As we watched Hurricane Harvey bear down on Texas last week, we knew that GoodRx needed to do something to help. Houston is the fourth largest city in the USA and many people who live in the area struggle to afford their prescriptions—and that was before a major hurricane. We desperately wanted to help, even if we’re not experts on disaster assistance.

On Wednesday, we came up with a simple plan: GoodRx would go to Houston, volunteer at a shelter, and pay 100% of the cost of prescriptions and basic necessities for as many people in need as we could reach.

We immediately realized some of our biggest challenges. The airport was closed. Hotels were booked . . . or just closed. No rental cars were available and ground transportation is limited. Undeterred, we bought plane tickets to arrive in Houston on Sunday. We had a basic plan and would figure out the details upon arrival.

NRG Stadium set up with fresh cots and ready to receive new arrivals.

NRG Stadium set up with fresh cots and ready to receive new arrivals

The night shift: volunteering at NRG Center shelter

After a very early flight from Los Angeles, we arrived in Houston and immediately headed for NRG Center, one of the largest shelters helping individuals and families in the Houston area. The shelter had recently received supplies and generous donations from all over the country.

Team GoodRx with local volunteers at NRG shelter in Houston.

Team GoodRx with local volunteers at NRG shelter in Houston

NRG has welcomed thousands of people since Hurricane Harvey hit. This huge shelter has separate areas for single women, families, single men, and pets. Guests are fed and provided clothing, basic necessities and inflatable beds or cots to sleep in. Police and medical staff are also available to assist.

Team GoodRx volunteered in the “department store,” where clothing donations are distributed to shelter guests. Many of these people were evacuated because they were in the path of the hurricane or resulting floods.

We spent all of Sunday night working at the shelter. Over the course of the night, we met many wonderful people, including local volunteers who offered us rides, a place to sleep, and more after they learned we had flown into Houston to help.

When our shift ended at 5 am the next morning, we went to a friend’s house to get a brief rest before the next part of our relief efforts.

“GoodRx pays for your prescriptions and groceries”

Empty shelves as supplies run low at a local Houston grocery store.

Empty shelves as supplies run low at a local Houston grocery store

A few hours later, we headed to southwest Houston, an area that had been hit pretty hard (as we learned the night before). We found many stores that were closed, had no power, or had very limited supplies.

A Kroger in southwest Houston was one of the few open stores. We approached Adrian, the pharmacist on duty, and asked if we could pay for people’s prescriptions that day. No strings attached. (It’s important to note that at no time did we use or promote GoodRx discounts; that’s not what this trip was about.)

Adrian, the wonderful pharmacist at Kroger, with GoodRx team members and customers.

Adrian, the wonderful pharmacist at Kroger, with GoodRx team members and customers

Adrian was happy to have us help, and together, we began paying for people’s prescriptions. We literally just swiped our business and personal credit and debit cards to pay for as many people as possible. Adrian called patients who had left earlier because they could not afford their prescriptions and asked them to return because he had a “nice surprise” for them. We met a mother whose house had suffered significant roof damage, a father with a son in the ICU, a grandmother, and dozens of others.

All in all, we managed to help hundreds of people in just a short time in Houston. Everyone we met was so hopeful, appreciative of our efforts, and receptive. We were so humbled by the dedication of the volunteers and the positive spirit of the community.

Our trip to Houston was one way for us to give back. Now, we’re looking at other ways we can expand #GoodRxHelps to have a greater impact at the community level.

For more information on how you can help the Houston area, see our previous article.

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