Two Raymond James advisors working with others helped rescue at least 75 people this week in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Weston Keenan, an employee advisor in Austin, and Kyle Hawthorne, who recently joined the employee channel of Raymond James from Wells Fargo Advisors in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, participated in volunteer-organized relief efforts that saved the lives of those affected by flooding along the Gulf Coast.
“Weston Keenan … took his small boat and trailered it to Houston, where he and a friend rescued some 50-plus people,” according to Pat Allison, director of Raymond James & Associates’ Western Division, while Hawthorne “didn’t hesitate to help where he could.”
Working with two friends and support from their church community, Hawthorne traveled about eight hours to the Houston area with other volunteers and their 129 boats. On Tuesday, the advisor, Cody Smith and Jeramie Anderson — an active member of the National Guard — rescued between 25 and 30 people, ages 6 to 86, some of whom had never been on a boat.
Their first effort on Tuesday involved saving three people who were stranded in a tree after their boat capsized. The following day, they rescued a 76-year-old woman from a flooded nursing home.
“On behalf of all the Raymond James associates and clients who have been impacted by this devastating storm, we are truly grateful for the assistance and support provided by volunteers and relief organizations from throughout the area — including several of our own employees who were able to lend a hand,” Allison said in a statement. “I am so proud of them all.”
Hawthorne is no stranger to floods, having survived one in the Baton Rouge area a year ago, when his father was rescued by volunteers. At the time, the advisor pledged to return the favor when he could.
"My father, who has since passed away, needed blood transfusion the day after the flood. With the help of the 'Cajun Navy,' he was taken to the hospital," the advisor said in an interview. "From then on, I said I would pay it forward when I got the chance."
That chance came earlier this week, when he saw a group of volunteers organizing a trip from Baton Rouge to Houston on Facebook and signed on to offer his support.
After he returned home, Hawthorne discovered that his wife had been sending him text messages about some friends of a co-worker who needed his assistance in Houston. Though the advisor never received the messages, he did in fact help rescue these individuals.
“It was divine intervention,” he said. "We couldn't check our phones for texts with addresses and even photos because of the hard rain, wind and the swift current. It was a white-knuckle situation on Tuesday."
Overall, Raymond James says it has made an initial $100,000 donation to the disaster relief efforts in Houston via the American Red Cross. It also has pledged $25,000 of its own charity, Friends of Raymond James, for related support of advisors, employees and others affected by Hurricane Harvey.