When times get rough, Keli Lynch-Wright sings the words to Bob Marley’s classic song “Three Little Birds” to her young son Ashton.
She sang the words: “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be alright,” to her then 5-year-old son after their Alabaster home burned to the ground about seven years ago. Lynch-Wright still sings the song to her son, who will be 13 next month, from time-to-time, she said.
Ashton even sings the song to her when she needs cheering up, she said.
The song, along with the duo’s love of helping others, inspired the disaster relief organization – Hatching Hope — that Lynch-Wright and Ashton launched officially in January. The organization has ready helped dozens if not hundreds of families statewide.
“It all flowed together,” said Ashton, of how he came up with the name of the non-profit.
The statement, though, also applies to how quickly Hatching Hope has taken off.
Having worked in the apartment industry for 20 years, Lynch-Wright often found herself helping families across the state who lost their homes and possessions to fire. When she could, she brought Ashton along to help, even more so after they lost their home to fire.
Over the years, Lynch-Wright became a master at recruiting volunteers, securing donations and corporate sponsors and connecting these volunteers and donors with those in need.
This skill became essential when launching a statewide disaster relief organization (which Ashton hopes will expand worldwide).
Lynch-Wright said the work often starts with a $10 donation and one person committing an hour’s worth of time.
“For years in this business, anything we set out to do, we get it done, and it is done bigger and better than anyone could have ever dreamed of,” Lynch-Wright said.
One example is the April 27, 2011 tornado that killed 53 people in Tuscaloosa and destroyed more than 5,300 homes there. Lynch-Wright said she felt compelled to do something to help, but the devastation was too big for many people to comprehend.
She and others in the apartment industry partnered with a moving company and collected donations from property managers and delivered them to apartment dwellers who lost everything.
The day before Thanksgiving last year, Lynch-Wright said she and her son responded to a massive fire at The Park at Hoover apartments to help those displaced.
“The clubhouse was packed” with more than 100 people, she said. “Everyone was sleeping on the floor.”
Many of them escaped with only the clothing on their backs, Lynch-Wright said.
She said Ashton suggested they go home and get the air mattress his friends use when they sleep over.
They didn’t stop there, Lynch-Wright said. They combed through the Black Friday sales and bought all of the air mattresses they could find.
“That is where it all started,” she said, of Hatching Hope.
Hatching Hope has grown from a handful of volunteers in Birmingham to a network of volunteers, sponsors and fire officials in Mobile, Montgomery, Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Birmingham.
Hatching Hope is a registered partner of the American Red Cross. The group is affiliated with every apartment association in the state.
Lynch-Wright said Hatching Hope is typically contacted about providing relief by the Red Cross or apartment management.
Hatching Hope works first to meet the immediate needs of fire victims. The organization provides a kit complete with an air mattress, pillows, linens, towels and toiletry kit. Most of the kits have a personal message written by someone in Ashton’s school in Alabaster, or another volunteer or donor.
Children receive a teddy bear or action figure.
Dana Robbins, the former manager of Mountain Lodge apartments in Vestavia Hills, said Hatching Hope is providing a vital service to apartment residents.
She said Lynch-Wright and others responded to a March 11 fire at the apartments, which displaced about 10 families.
“We had a couple of residents who didn’t have any family in Birmingham,” Robbins said. “For the first few days, the items from Hatching Hope were all they had.”
She said Hatching Hope goes a step beyond what Red Cross alone can provide for displaced residents, which is often one night in a hotel and a meal. Sometimes, Hatching Hope even responds faster.
Because of her experience in the apartment industry, Lynch-Wright knows who to call for help, and apartment managers know to call her, Robbins added.
“The help they have been able to offer in our industry, there is just not enough words to say how beneficial it is,” she said.
Through the assistance of Birmingham attorney and animal advocate, Angie Ingram, Hatching Hope recently launched Hatching Hope for Pets, which provides food, a leash, collar and blanket for pets displaced along with their families.
Hatching Hope recently partnered with HD Supply, a supplier of multifamily and renovation supplies. The company is donating all of their opened returns, which they cannot resale, to Hatching Hope.
Lynch-Wright plans to sell the inventory quarterly to raise money for relief efforts. The ultimate goal is to open a store year-round to raise funds.