when irma hit

From the beginning, the power of a compelling “story” has propelled the Giving Kitchen. Here, we feature the story of Alex Blanco, served by a Direct Grant because of a disaster.


Alex Blanco’s family moved to Atlanta from Miami in the spring of 2017. In September, they watched Hurricane Irma run through the Caribbean, Florida and then Georgia, mostly with concern for family back in Miami. As the still-strong remnants of the hurricane approached Atlanta, Alex was at his job as a cafe manager—his pregnant wife and one-year-old daughter safely at home in their apartment. Around 1:30pm though, as lunch was starting to wind down, Alex got a call from his wife. He recalls that she was “frantically crying, saying that a tornado is going through the apartment and windows have shattered.” They didn’t expect Irma to make such a dramatic impact on their lives here in Atlanta.


Turns out, the commotion was caused by two massive trees crashing through their apartment, straight through the apartment above. And the damage to the apartment wasn’t all. “My wife fell and fractured her foot,” Alex shared, “and our daughter suffered some bumps and bruises as well because of it since my wife was carrying her.”

Alex rushed home to find the fire department on the scene. The apartment was deemed unsafe to enter or to live in and would be completely off-limits for days. Alex’s wife required a trip to the emergency room. Their property manager offered to keep the dog while they took care of things, and the chef who Alex works with offered to do the same after that.

Alex’s family was rather lucky in that they had renter’s insurance, but there was a $1,000 deductible and the need to stay in a hotel, which ended up being more expensive than it might have been since millions of evacuees were headed towards Atlanta and filling up hotels everywhere. Much of the property inside the apartment was damaged by flooding, but at least the property managers were helping Alex’s family get into a new apartment as quickly as they could.  Still, they couldn’t even get into their apartment to get clothing. There were deductibles to be met, travel expenses for family to help care for Alex’s wife and child, truck rentals and hospital bills.

Thankfully, Alex was told about the Giving Kitchen. His grant application summed it up: “We are in an extremely tough situation and, although the people I work with have been nothing but gracious and helpful, we are still in dire need of help.”

Today, Alex and his family are in a new apartment with new furnishings, and all is basically back to normal. The Giving Kitchen helped his family take care of expenses due to Irma and to get back on their feet. There’s a pillow on the couch that says “GOOD VIBES.” To all of those who helped the Giving Kitchen help Alex’s family, Alex shared a simple thanks: “I can’t thank you enough for what you and your organization have done for my family.”

Alex needed emergency assistance because of a natural disaster. Learn more about our program services, our Direct Grants and the specifics of our grants based on disaster here.