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Q: Volunteering for katrina aftermath? ( No Answer,   4 Comments )
Subject: Volunteering for katrina aftermath?
Category: Reference, Education and News > Current Events
Asked by: rjeong-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 03 Sep 2005 18:03 PDT
Expires: 03 Oct 2005 18:03 PDT
Question ID: 564031
I'm in denver, colorado and looking to go to some place near New Orlean to
help out.  First though I'm curious if I'd be a help or a hinderence,
would another untrained person (as in no disaster relief skills) be
useful or not?  I'm not really into giving money so I'd like to avoid
the cash donation sites.  I'm a PC tech/Network Admin by trade, but I
get my hands sapped with forest cleaning during the summer.  Thoughts?
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Volunteering for katrina aftermath?
From: justaskscott-ga on 03 Sep 2005 22:20 PDT
Given your profession, an appropriate place to contact is this popular
blog by a DirectNIC crisis manager in New Orleans:

The Interdictor
Subject: Re: Volunteering for katrina aftermath?
From: stressedmum-ga on 03 Sep 2005 23:41 PDT
Can I offer my two bob's worth here and comment generally to your
question rather than specifically? Thx. As an Australian, my heart
bleeds for your country-people in the Gulf Coast area who are facing
this unbelievable devastation. But I know that your proud nation -- as
a people -- will all pitch in and make sure your homeless and your
traumatised will be sheltered and taken care of.

And, as the professional care/rescue/etc organisations kick in, many
immediate needs will be attended to by those who know what they're
doing, and untrained, superfluous people can do more harm than good,
if only by just being where they're not needed. Volunteers need to be
fed, housed, looked after and resources are stretched to breaking
point. But if you've got a valid skill to offer, then it makes sense
that you could be valuable. And because you're not a big organisation,
doesn't mean you can't help out in a meaningful way.

As someone who went through the trauma of losing everything in a
bushfire, I can tell you that immediate money donations made a vast
difference. We didn't even have something as simple as a toothbrush or
a coffee mug, let alone a nightie to wear that first night! (My family
was fortunate, though, and we did save our pets, some photo albums and
irreplaceable documents and believe me, when it comes to the crunch,
it's those things you want the most!)

But, my reason for telling you this is to give you an insight into
what it's like to be on the receiving end of aid and, it's no
cakewalk, let me tell you! In the ensuing days, kind people started to
really think about what they were donating and instead of sending
vast, and I mean *vast*, amounts of old, used clothes and stuff,
that's when when some really helpful, meaningful items were proffered
and, we were truly grateful.

(But also remember it's very hard for a person to be grateful *all*
the time. It's a very complex time, emotionally, and you'll find that
those victims (God, how I learned to hate being called that word!)
will reach a time when they simply can't be grateful, however well
meaning and kind the giver, and how "grateful" they are deep down. And
sometimes, the giver wants a lot in return. Any giving at such a time
should be completely unconditional. Victims are dealing with enough
without worrying about someone else's expectations of them.)

Gestures that I particularly remember were from the people who sold
Nutrimetics and Avon who donated make up and personal care items. At
such a terrible time, once the danger was over and we were sitting in
a stranger's house that was to become our home for the next 12 months,
shaking our heads and asking each other, "what the heck do we do
now?", something as frivolous as makeup and personal care items meant
a lot, and I *loved* Nutrimetics and Avon for it!

When a women's knitting circle donated some handmade jumpers, I
*loved* them for that too. I remember an aromatherapist put together
some kits of essential oils to soothe the spirit in times of trauma (I
can't smell Clary Sage without feeling a bit tearful but grateful and
reassured). Such a small thing, in the scheme of things and yet I
remember it, and it really helped me. A chain of department stores
sent over all their perfume tester bottles -- most were at least half
full. We might not have had a house or a change of clothes but by
crikey we looked and smelled sensational!!!

A computer guru got together with similarly clever gurus and got a
heap of ex-company computers up and running for each family (there
were hundreds).

So, don't think that there's nothing you can do other than give money.
(But don't underestimate the value of giving money. Money is really,
really  important at times like this and there are a lot of people in
dire need right now.)

I recommend that if you've got a particular skill or service or
product to give, keep asking. I'd be calling the bigger aid agencies
right now, although it's probably all too overwhelming right now for
any official organisation, but I would suggest that with your skills
as a techie, you could come in very useful. Why not get in touch with
community groups in your area who might be organising assistance?

Good on you for wanting to help and keep trying, even in the weeks and
months afterwards,and to anyone readin this who's directly affected by
Hurricane Katrina, please find some comfort, however small, in the
knowledge that even as far away as Australia, people really care and
wish you well for the future. No matter how bleak your future looks,
you will recover. I know.
Subject: Re: Volunteering for katrina aftermath?
From: stressedmum-ga on 04 Sep 2005 04:52 PDT
Have you seen the response to this question?It's relevant to yours:
Subject: Re: Volunteering for katrina aftermath?
From: rjeong-ga on 04 Sep 2005 13:04 PDT
Thanks for all the input and I look forward to more!  

I did happen to read, but it was
somewhat focused on places in texas.  I am generally curious rather
then specifically curious about katrina.

As of yet it and based on my other research it very much looks like
gift giving as was mention or other acts of kindness are the best way
as of yet although I'm still reviewing possibilities.  It looks as
though I'd be consuming more resources as a untrained volunteer then I
would be providing.

Back tracking and training in disaster services looks as though it's
going to better in the long term given that I may have missed my
chance with the tsunami and with katrina, but this is not an isolated
incident.  Next time I'll be ready.  (Let me know if you've got a
better idea!)


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