Flower Mound volunteers give rides to essential workers during winter storm

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Tracy Black and his fellow Flower Mound People Helping People volunteers offered rides to health care workers.

What began as a Facebook group last March focused on pandemic relief for hospital staff and other first responders expanded to helping many of those same folks get to work during last week’s winter storm.

Tracy Black and his fellow Flower Mound People Helping People volunteers made sure about two dozen nurses and other hospital employees made it safely to their appointed rounds.

“Tracy helped (last year) when people offered to donate meals to our employees. He helped with organizing parades at the hospital a couple of times in the beginning of the pandemic to allow the community to show their support,” said Pam Petrides, the hospital’s marketing director.

“When the roads got to be dangerous during the snowstorm last week, employees were calling and texting day and night saying they needed rides because they were not comfortable driving themselves to work.”

Once the Virginia native and former Minnesota resident learned of the need, Black contacted Petrides and offered to have his group help.

“There were quite a few employees that asked for rides and Tracy gathered a number of other volunteers in the community to help him throughout the week,” Petrides said.

Flower Mound People Helping People safely transported hospital staff members to and from area cities including Carrollton, Northlake, Lewisville and Grapevine.

“The response from the community to help was overwhelming,” Black said. “We were all in the same boat with no power or rolling blackouts. We met some great nurses and staff and got them safely to and from work. It was just awesome.”

Helping his longtime home is nothing special for Black, general manager of the Flower Mound Youth Sports Association (FMYSA) for the past 15 years.

“In preparation for the pandemic we wanted to reach out in any way we could to help everyone from our elderly to our first responders, our police, our fire, our hospitals and do what we could to support them and keep their spirits up,” Black said.

“One of our group’s first activities was related to Flower Mound Presby. Jennifer McDonald was instrumental in organizing our big campaigns providing meals to all the hospital workers as a thank you. It continued on as we fed the firefighters and the police.”

In June, the group launched a campaign providing items for food pantries in Grapevine and Flower Mound.

In between, Black spent much of his time partnering with Jeff Nelson, FMYSA’s president, State Representative Tan Parker, and Governor Greg Abbott’s office to allow youth sports to return. They were concerned with kids being isolated and subject to increased issues at home during lockdowns last year.

“Jeff and I knew we needed to at least get the kids with their coaches outdoors and in small groups so we can check on them and make sure they were fine, give them something to look forward to,” Black said. “Even though it was a short period of time there was a lot of damage done. We were glad to be a part of getting youth sports back for the kids and their families.”

Black worked with the Town of Flower Mound to begin safe small group practices with four players each last May followed by recreational games in June.

Between then and the unusual combination of cold and snow that paralyzed the state last week, Flower Mound People Helping People wasn’t needed much other than seeking volunteers to administer COVID-19 vaccines at Texas Motor Speedway.

“We were just monitoring any elderly people who needed groceries but it was few and far between,” Black said. “People at that time were taking care of themselves, taking care of their neighbors.

“It’s not normal yet but things moved back toward normal once people started going back to work and getting businesses back up so there were no specific campaigns for us to do until now.”

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