Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Volunteer Blogging: Day 3

Back to Square 1

Today I returned to the shelter from Monday, the one at ChristChurch Baptist Fellowship. The other volunteers there seemed genuinely happy to see me, and not just because the help was needed and welcome -- we seem to have developed some real camaraderie. I think I'll be going there the rest of the week (all two days).

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!

One policy at the shelter makes me really question my motives for blogging on my volunterering at all, and definitely caused me to decide not to catalog everything I do each day. It was a simple thing, really. At the shelter, volunteer vehicles are parked the furthest from the entrance, evacuee vehicles closest. And that's how it should be. Because no matter how much good we're doing, it's not about us -- it's about the people in need. Anyone who has a problem with that shouldn't bother volunteering for anything. Ever.

Yippee Yahoo!

I will mention in passing, however, that I spent the second half of my day in the computer room, helping evacuees with their FEMA assistance applications, job searches, apartment searches, and searches for missing friends and loved ones. I mention this in passing to point out some websites that really impressed me.

Yahoo has a People Finder that searches at least a dozen different missing persons registries. I saw it firsthand successfully locate at least one missing person. Very good for them.

If you want a creative way to help, consider donating frequent flier miles. MileDonor matches up people who want to give with people in need of flights. They weren't specifically set up for Katrina, but they are helping. The airline tickets donated by Continental were gone in three days.


This morning I gave a ride (in another volunteer's car) to an evacuee (name withheld) who needed to check out an apartment for rent. His wife already has a job, and he will get one as soon as he's found them an apartment. She has medical complications which require that their new place be right on a bus route, so he's doing the leg work while she goes to her job. He was polite and friendly and was doing his best to muddle through all the red tape associated with getting long term help. all this despite the fact that he still doesn't know where his fourteen year old son is, or even if he made it. I have a great deal of respect for the rescuers and first responders and relief workers and volunteers, but let's not forget the heroism of many of the hurricane's survivors, for whom day-by-day living is an exercize in courage.