Non-profit Oilfield Helping Hands recently opened their Haynesville chapter, which covers counties in East Texas and parishes in Northwest Louisiana, including Panola County.
Ashley Thomas, president of the Haynesville chapter, said the organization helps raise money to help oilfield workers and their families who are in financial crisis.
“Any financial need that is at no fault of their own, and they are in the oilfield, we can help in the form of a grant,” Thomas said. “So they’ve helped everyone form somebody who’s child is sick and they cannot go to work — they’re taking care of their child, hurricane displacements, any kind of event or situation that puts them at financial need.”
Vice President Heather Ferrill added a few other examples of people they’ve helped, such as those who have gotten cancer or had a house fire.
They mostly raise the money through events.
“So the Permian chapter for example, they do a really large concert, and they have a clay shoot, golf tournaments, casino night, mixers,” Thomas said. “They’re about to do their first casino night. So it’s events that also bring community sense and networking while raising the funds. So I guess you could think of it as having fun for a good cause.”
The Haynesville chapter, named after the Haynesville Shale, is about to do their first monthly meeting event in the form of a happy hour on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. at Silver Star Smoke House in Bossier City. Everyone is invited and encouraged to get involved.
“We’re going to have a couple of our national board members here to try to just spread awareness, answer any questions, get people signed up for memberships, volunteers,” Thomas said. “There’s still a lot of things and office positions that we can put people in as far as committees go. There’s a lot of room to get involved right now because we are so new.”
Oilfield Helping Hands fills a needed gap in the area, they said.
“There’s some smaller organizations around here that kind of do the same thing, but nothing on the level of Oilfield Helping Hands,” Thomas said. “And the Hayneville is also lacking in events and networking for all of us that work in this industry. So we kind of killed two birds with one stone in my opinion by bringing a chapter here.
“So while we get the benefits of being able to network and stuff, we also get to give money to people in need out here,” she said. “And while we cover East Texas and Northwest Louisiana, our coverage is so much bigger than the other organizations. It was just needed here.”
It’s a way of giving back, Ferrill said.
“I think a big part of why we wanted to bring the chapter as well is that for so many of us, being in the oilfield has kind of changed our entire way of life,” she said. “Once you get in, it’s hard to get out; you don’t want to. And so I think with the industry pouring so much into our lives and meeting so many good people who have been willing to help, and like I said turn it into a whole way of life, you find yourself wanting to give back to it as much as it’s given to you. And so it’s a really fun but efficient way to do that.”
Something Ferrill loves about the organization is their transparency.
“They always report their money, you know exactly where it’s going,” she said. “We keep paper trails, so that way they know if they do choose to donate or give their time, that that money will actually make it from point A to point B, which is a huge deal when it comes to giving your money. You don’t mind giving it, but you want to make sure it actually helps the people that you want it to, and we do a really good job of making that happen.”
Thomas moved to the area a little over a year ago from Midland, where she was involved in the Permian chapter.
“Just seeing the great things that they do out there; they literally change people’s lives, and it definitely helps that the events are fun too, and it helps us in — I call it my real job, the one that actually pays me,” she said. “It helps in that too because we’re all in this industry, and so you get to meet people while helping others. So it’s just a win-win all the way around for everybody, and like I said, there’s nothing quite like it here, and the need is definitely there, especially since the oil and gas industry out here is literally booming right now. So that’s just why, just a bunch of like-minded people, we all just kind of got together and decided that this is something that is needed.”
In order to receive aid through Oilfield Helping Hands, a person must be employed in the oilfield for at least a year, with 75 percent of your income coming from that job, and you must be in financial need through no fault of your own.
All the money given in one area goes to help people in that area, and everyone involved is a volunteer, even at the national level, Thomas said. Those interested in volunteering, giving money, or receiving aid can visit oilfieldhelpinghands.org, email email@example.com. You can become a chapter member for free.