KatrinaAdvocate

Ideas on assisting in the relief effort without going in person. Much can be done without leaving your house. Give those affected by disaster some hope, and use some of these ideas to help them.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

February 07 Updates

2/3 I'm writing on the fly, so I hope this doesn't seem too disjointed. And while I have many projects to address, I'm leaving them out of this update in order to step up on the good old soap box.
#1 - There has been something of a row over a volunteer in Hancock County. There are those who have been uneasy with her, those have defend her to the death and those who have been robbed by her. I'm sure all of those who have worked closely with any of the survivors could share a story about a volunteer or even themselves with all 3 of those feelings being used.
So that isn't even what's bothering me. What IS bothering me is how personally some are getting in defense of their position. Lashing out at others, regardless of how strongly you feel about something, is wrong. Period. It's childish, it's unprofessional, it's uncalled for. Agree to disagree and move on. Don't work with that particular volunteer anymore if need be. But do not get personal.
The one attack that is bothering me is judging someone whether they have been to the region or not. Guess what kids? We all need each other, whether we are getting our hands muddy down south, or staying home and working the recovery effort behind the scenes. I know of more than 1 volunteer that could NOT do what they are doing without someone staying home taking care of bills, children, homes, family members, etc. I also know of more than 1 volunteer who just can't make it down for physical reasons, financial reasons, family reasons, etc. And they are doing at least as much as the person who is muddy and has a hammer in their hands.
When I say at least as much as the muddy one - I mean this: How many families have they given hope to, help to, a voice for? How many volunteers have they been able to recruit to go down, donate money, materials or time behind the scenes? Contrast this to the muddy one who is helping but one family with just their hands, with no recruiting, no finding donations or materials.
We need each other. Period. This effort is taking all of us. So practice what I try to - Principle Above Personality. We have the same goal. The same principle. We don't all have the same personality. Deal with it.
#2 - I read a statistic on a gov't site this week - every year there are 30-60 natural disasters in the US. WOW - I knew the number was up there, and am more accutely aware of their existance since starting this volunteering, but I had NO clue it was that high. So what I'm going to say is this - commit to one. Don't go trying to help everyone who has a larger sized disaster. Be sympathetic. But you can't help everyone and you can't save everyone. Save who you started out to save. Katrina's Angels has a great saying that goes something like this, "Commit to doing, and do what you commit to." Stay focused.
Also realize that tragedy isn't that far away from any of us. And if we, as volunteers, are going to continue assisting those who are in the middle of a disaster, we need to be prepared to help ourselves. In other words - practice what we preach! The following link has many links and ideas to prepare our homes, our businesses (our volunteer EFFORTS), our families and ourselves for the very real possibility of a natural disaster striking us or our area. Start working on it a little at a time.
http://katrinanetworking.blogspot.com/2006/06/preparing-for-disaster.html
Finally - please read the Community Garden page. Then contact Lynn or me with your interest in participating.
http://katrinanetworking.blogspot.com/2007/02/community-garden.html

2/10 Happy Almost Valentine's Day to you. We've kind of taken the Saint out of the day, haven't we?
At any rate, it's been a busy week. I'm dizzy for it, but that's not all bad. I like busy and so I'll tolerate dizzy for it.
I'm actually backed up on letters for the Letter of The Week spot! Not a bad place to be!
I've written one that is posted on the Advocate site first, and will move over to the Letter page the week of the 25th. If you'd like to work with it now, it's on getting Master Gardeners and other green thumbs to come assist with all of the opportunities that just won't quit in the recovery area.
http://katrinaadvocate.blogspot.com/2007/02/garden-and-greenspace-letter.html
This week's letter is written by Suzanne, another volunter, who has been able to maintain contact with the West Hancock Fire and Rescue Department. They are in a real bind - have been from day 1, but it's getting worse. If you'd like to preview that one to send to your local FD's, you'll find it on the Pearlington site:
http://pearlingtonrelief.blogspot.com/2007/02/west-hancock-fire-and-rescue.html
I've written a letter to send to a medium sized trucking company in hopes of getting more assistance in shipping materials and goods down. Will post that in beginning of March, if you're so inclined. I'll also be posting it on the Advocate site prior. Will be mailing it Monday.
Have started sending Spring Break letters to all NYS universities in hopes of getting any organizations going down to assist in the transport of stuff. If they're already going, might as well cram their vehicles full! That letter is up NOW and will be the second letter on the page in just a few days. Send it to your state's universities. I've sent 20 and am only through "C".
I've written a PSA for your local community calendar thing on your Public Access Channel:
The Gulf Coast Still Needs You
Help 1 or many, here or there
Contact (your first name here) (your phone number here)
(your email here)
You can then direct them to your favorite group, you can direct them to the Real People Relief site to assist a family - or another Adopt A Family program you might know about. Very little effort on your part and you could be directing hundreds of $$ worth of assistance. All for a 39 cent stamp. Very cool investment!
I've also started the gardening series, other than just posting the information on starting a community garden. Right now there the Community Gardening page and a Container Gardening page. Tonight I am hoping to post the Pest Control page. This doesn't include teen-age two-legger pests. Just mostly 4-legger types and some flappy things.
I've also agreed on being the host of the Carnival of Hurricane Relief once a month - every third Thursday. This means NEXT Thursday. Eep! I want to have 2 main foci - children and emergency services. The children will be first. Which brings me to some introspection. Another volunteer and I were talking about the series of crises in the South. This person heard of the police turning a blind eye at a very obvious abuse case and just walking away.
Tragic and enraging, right? Well, let's think about this. All buildings were destroyed. The storm didn't say, "oh, this is a children's home, I'll spare it." It nailed everything. Boys and Girls clubs, children's homes, SOS shelters, foster family homes.
Everything set up to assist the children. Next, only about 60% of any demographic is really back. Yes, populations are back up, but mostly with contractors and such. It's still not everybody. Some places are to 90% - great! But that also means 90% of the abusers are back too.
No one has real homes - over 30,000 trailers in MS alone - still. This means foster families who might take more than 1 kid in normal circumstances, are hard pressed to take even one.
Then look at the police forces. They are still working with something like 60% staffing. Violent crime is up, violent crime against police is up, domestic violence is up (where most cops get hurt).
Low staffing, higher violent crime, no where to put the kids. How enraged do you think the police are at that? How defeating do you think it is?
So I'm focusing on the children. If you know of any information - good, bad, indifferent - the Gulf kids, the kids who are helping, etc., let me know. I'll post it.
Thanks everyone.

2/17 Jello! Well, New England has survived the "Valentine's Day Storm of '07". Oy. The news always has to put a title to it. It's still colder than a well digger's you-know-what, but it's bright! A whole lot brighter than before the snow fell.
Brice from WQRZ (Hancock County radio station) emailed a whole bunch of folks to say he would be in Saratoga Springs NY for their Mardi Gras celebration this weekend. I sent him a few pointers - bring every piece of warm clothing you have. Find some balm for the INside of your nose (trust me on this). I guess he got a good chuckle out of it since he sent it to a few other people as well. I heard from one of them. Actually, I'm hoping he'll find what I feel to be true - 18 and dry feels a whole lot warmer than 30 and damp. I'll let you know if I hear anything.
I've sent out 2 mailings of the college Spring Break letter to get them to help transport materials down (that have already been collected). I've heard back from 1 of the first set's colleges. I still see real success mailing to colleges and universities. You should try it. It's a great investment.
I've also just mailed a letter to the founder, CEO, President and Exec. VP of 2 Men and a Truck. I'm hoping by combining a way for them to go "green" with assisting in the transport of materials to the Gulf, they'll like the idea and help. There are so many organizations who need assistance getting items down there that having even just one company help will be a huge asset in the progress. To help convince them, please consider mailing it as well...
http://katrinaadvocate.blogspot.com/2007/02/2-men-and-truck.html
Good and bad news to cotinue. One family from the RPR site had that NOLA tornado pass within 3 blocks of her house. She was going to be helping at the local shelter on her days off from work.
I haven't heard from another family (single person) in a few weeks. Last time this happened, she had been in the hospital for 2 weeks with an unknown respiratory infection that wasn't responding to treatment. Well, when they don't know what it is, it's hard to treat. I'm afraid she's back in the hospital or has died. I truly hope not.
One of my families is splitting up. The stress and their collective illnesses are proving too much for them.
My grandfamily is having serious trouble. The kids are being seriously harassed at school, the house is dilapidated, she hasn't found another job to replace the one that fell through. A highlight is her uncle has applied for a USDA Rural Division Elderly Home Repair Grant. Big name for a little hope.
2 families have found steady jobs, so are beginning to find a way out from under the mountain of stress and debt. I can't begin to imagine. They are staying on the site until we all know they are truly secure.
A new group is forming for future disaster assistance. It's very interesting to be on the ground floor and will be more interesting to see where the group ends up.
I've started a new feature on the Networking blog. I'm proudly becoming a host of the Carnival of Hurricane Relief (http://www.cehwiedel.com/cohr/). This link will be on the Networking blog, and will remain as a Monthly Feature. I'm calling it "Subject of The Month". I will be leaving the links on the page permanently, but each time I host the Carnival, which is monthly, I'll change the subject. The first subject is Children. The second shall be Elderly. Third - First Responders. I will rotate through these quarterly, as I feel they are all very neglected aspects of the recovery effort. http://katrinanetworking.blogspot.com/2007/02/subject-of-month-carnival-of-hurricane.html
Please feel free to send me links as you find them and I'll post them! It will really give a great indepth look at each of these topics.
It is becoming Flea market and church Bane/Blessing sale season! Consider shopping for items for a family as so many still need the most basic of items - cookware, bakeware, towels, clothes, lamps, etc.
Please also consider writing some letters to assist. Trust me, the investment of a single stamp can produce at least $1000 worth of assistance. It feels better than winning the lottery and the odds are far better too! Go to www.KatrinaAdvocate.blogspot.com for all of the letters I've written to date. You can also follow the weekly letter feature for letters that are appropriate for the season and projects by other organizations: http://katrinanetworking.blogspot.com/2007/08/letter-of-week.html
Thanks everyone!

2/24 I hope all are well today. A lot and nothing all at once.
My dad totalled his truck yesterday. Fortunately, no one was injured seriously and it wasn't his fault.
Have been doing a new round of research and networking, so things are a bit crazy.
First - between an active discussion with my brother and one of my families on the Real People Relief site, I finally thought to look for plans on alternative heat and hot water sources.
I found some! Between the dead wood that is everywhere along the coast, the debris that remains in every town, and these plans, I feel there is a very real possibility to give everyone heat and hot water - individuals in homes, FEMA trailers, churches, volunteer villages, etc. This is infinitely doable. I have ordered the plans for the outdoor wood burner, but not the solar hot water heater. Will let you know how the plans look.
To see what I have found thus far:
Next - I have finished the directions for the quilt! Fortitude is its name. Please review its page and email me if you'd like a copy of the directions. I will be submitting the directions to about 3 major quilting magazines in hopes of recruiting people to make these for hurricane survivors.
Fortitude - A quilt for hurricane survivors
I've added some material to the Subject of The Month - namely an effort by a Miss Teen pageant winner for her home town and county - Hancock County. It's to raise funds, awareness and materials for new and expectant mothers dealing with survival, recovery and now a baby.
If you would like to assist in this by taking the announcement to your personal obstetrician's office, I know more than just I will be eternally grateful.
I have more contacts on the Coast for the Community Gardens and greenspace revival initiative. I will be working with them more in the coming weeks to get things hashed out a bit more and get more help coming their way.
If you would like to read about one such organization trying to help 3 counties along the coast, click here
And if you'd like to join the letter writing campaign to get volunteers heading their way, click here
I have so much to write and to mail, I'm finding it a bit overwhelming! I actually have a backlog of letters that I feel need to be sent out NOW. That's always the way!
I have another family leaving FEMA and striking out on their own again. Scary, but great to hear! So many do this before they are really financially ready, but I don't blame them one bit for wanting to get out of those tuna cans/crypts. This makes 4 (about 10%) who have made that much progress since we all met.
If you'd like to assist one of them, please email me or look at their collective pages on the real people relief site
Take care and I'll write more next week.
L

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