Sunday, November 06, 2005

The shameful state of affairs

There's a woman in our church who survived Katrina. Hers is an amazing story, if not completely unique. She got herself and three children, the youngest of which is around two out of there without any help from anyone else. When she got here, she was ready to go to work and take care of her family. She was not prepared for the lack of help the beaurocracy afforded her.

When we met her, this woman had nothing, not even a full bed to sleep on. Her and her three kids were sharing a mattress on the floor. She went to the Salvation Army, there wasn't room to take on anyone else. She heard the same thing from every other agency she went to. Then the United Way informed her that their stock of donated items hasn't been released yet. All this stuff that wonderful people around the country have donated and it's sitting in a warehouse somewhere. All this nonsense has made me decide one thing.

The next time there's a disaster and I want to help someone, I'm not going through the Red Cross, or the United Way, or anyone else. I'm going to identify someone who needs help and get them the help they need. There are lots of ways to do this, I'm about to tell you one of them.

My wife and I have very little. We could never have afforded to help this very special woman and her family. My wife had a brainstorm. Let's get the internet involved. She utilized a group she's belonged to for a while called Freecycle. They basically pass around things they don't need to people who do. Last Sunday we became aware of our fellow churchmember's plight. By the following Saturday my wife had accumulated two loveseats, enough beds for everyone in the house to have a place to sleep, pots and pans, clothes, a TV and enough extra stuff to help another family that we just found out about. All we had to do was spend a couple of hours driving around and picking stuff up and deliver it to out neighbor.

The moral of the story is this. If you really want to make sure that people get help when something like Katrina happens, you need to take the initiative and make sure the help actually gets to the people who need it. Otherwise it'll end up behind a wall of beurocracy that won't be penetrated until the stuff is no longer needed.

In closing, I want to thank my amazing church family for the love and support they've shown to this family in the short time they've been here. I want to thank my wife for having the foresight and imagination to coordinate this effort.

Most of all , I want to thank God for putting them all in my life at a time when I really need them.


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