November 20, 2005
I continue to take apples, along with book bags and supplies sent to me from Thomas Jefferson District, fun packs sent by the Berkeley Church and toiletry items sent by the congregation in Seward, Alaska, to Waveland's New Cafe and Market. I have been told they are closing the day after Thanksgiving as local businesses are open, but it still gives me a knot in my stomach. Its hard to imagine everyone has money to buy what they need. Many, some with children are living in tents along the coast often where their house used to be, and it has gotten colder in Mississippi this last week. I'm not sure where others are.
I drove through two FEMA Trailer parks rather briefly and found no one outside to talk with about things, but promised myself I'd return. Becky Dalton, a member of the Ellisville congregation drove to the site near Laurel, and knocked on doors to see if people needed blankets. She said most were concerned about where they could put things as the trailers are so small. She did hand out all of her blankets.
Annette Marquis and Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo left hymnals in my home in Moselle for the congregations I serve as a gift to brighten their days as tokens of support...very muchly appreciated! The hymnals were provided by various churches in the Mass Bay District; its incredible to read the notations inside them and know how many are holding the people of Mississippi and Louisiana in their hearts. Here are Annette's words about their trip. Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo and I took this past week to drive to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Here are some of the highlights:
- We delivered a total of 70 hymnals to five of our affected congregations: Jackson, Our Home, Gulfport, North Shore and New Orleans First - donated by 8 different Mass Bay congregations, and a few individuals, many of who wrote inscriptions of care of concern.
- We provided children's books and art supplies to the North Shore congregation, donated (and books signed) by members of LREDA.
- We had a wonderful dinner with people from First Church NO including Rev. Marta Valentin, her partner Allison, congregational president Ann Maclaine, at the home of long-time member Jyaphia Cristoff-Rodgers.
- We provided a local school in the Lacombe area with approximately 20 band instruments from clarinets to trombones, needed for the influx of new students in their school. These were donated primarily by Deborah Weiner and Revels Circle of Song, the group she performs with, and the Winchester Unitarian Society congregants.
- We delivered five pallets of household goods: pans, dishes, silverware, sheets, and blankets to the New Waveland Free Market in Waveland, MS, donated by the Winchester, MA community with a large donation of sheets sets from Wellesley Hills.
- We gave a chainsaw to the president of the Gulfport congregation to assist in the clean-up of the church property and member's homes.
- Wendy offered a beautiful healing service to 25 members of the North Shore Congregation that was followed by a hearty dinner prepared and served by Wendy's daughter, Samantha, and me.
- We witnessed the impact of the storm on each of our churches and homes and businesses throughout New Orleans.
- We transported two badly damaged portraits of the founders of First Church NO from the 19th century to a member of All Souls' in Washington, DC, to be professionally restored and preserved until they can be re-hung in New Orleans.
The rental van they used was donated by a local Ford dealership in Winchester, MA and expenses such as gas and food were covered by several individuals and businesses who made cash donations.
Also, Martha Thompson, the representative of the UU Service Committee stayed with me briefly as she did a needs assessment of the Gulf Coast area. I think her report is going to be very important as she has been able to spend more time traveling to enable her to get a larger picture of the distress. She said that each area had significant issues that were different to other areas. I assume she will post a report on the UUSC website. She was very distressed at how little organization is in place to help people; in comparing the situation on the Coast with that in South America and other countries, she said we are less organized and providing less of the essentials for those affected!
Yours in faith, Jacqueline