Saturday, October 29, 2005

Is this the most random?

I’m not sure but today could top my list of most random days spent on this tiny spinning ball of blue. I was brought in to be the transitional camp manager of Gautier (go-Shay), MS. It’s a PDA “Volunteer Village”, technically the first village to be up and running after Katrina hit. The former camp manager was a tad on the militant side and apparently the higher ups had enough…so I got to be part of a coup of sorts (government sponsored of course). It’s interested being inserted into a highly tense and dynamic situation. Some folks are smiling from ear to ear and eagerly shaking my hand. Others are scratching their heads trying to figure out what has happened. And some are plain mad and immediately start making phone calls to whoever the most influential person they know is.

Along with trying to smooth out fractured relationships, near the top of my priority list was to get a handle on the “paperwork”. Anyone who has ever come into contact with me might know a bit about my organizational style. To say that I have a system would be overstating the facts. I have no system…or at least I have no discipline in keeping to my systems. Every so often I go through the motions of driving to Office Depot and buying a new sure fire organizational system that is sure to put me on the right track, veering off the path that leads to destruction – missed appointments, double booking, missed birthdays---sorry to those who have fallen victim. It’s a lot like a new year’s resolution but with better intensions and less heart. Within about 2 weeks the day planner, palm pilot, MS Office software, wall calendar, whatever, is collecting dust sitting in the back seat of my car, next to the empty chai paper cup and on top of last week’s Sunday funnies and an apple core.

But I digress… So I’m going through probably 400 pieces of paper, most of which are work requests of folks who have had their homes and lives turned upside down in about 7 hours – 7 weeks ago. My solution? A brand new spread sheet, of course! I spent a few hours inputting the data and finding out the names and addresses of those who we need TO DO and those who are DONE. I was overwhelmed by the number of DONEs the volunteers of this camp had done. These weren’t numbers or addresses but they were Al and Helen Larson of Pascagoula, Carlos Hernandez of Gautier and Alice Bennett of Gautier. About 100 of them…DONE. It’s a good feeling that I wish the former camp manager had the opportunity to go through and tell me stories of each person he or his team of volunteers had the privilege of serving.

So, have I mentioned in the past few days that this is all volunteers who are coming in from around the country? In camp, right now, there’s a group from Oakland and Orange County, CA and Northern Alabama. Coming in tomorrow are some guys from Texas (bringing their chainsaws to massacre some broken trees no less) and some folks from Newark, NJ. Did I mention that these are all just regular folks that want to help out? Do you want to help out for a few days? Come!!! You too can come. You need very little skill to drag heaps of drywall and soggy insulation in large plastic bins to the side of the road. Get a first hand experience down here… tell your own stories of the people you’ve helped! And if not, think about donating some $. Councilman Bill Stallworth, of Biloxi, estimates that to rebuild a house in East Biloxi it will cost $30-35,000 in materials alone. They are counting on volunteers to come through to hang the wallboard, install counters and paint walls, etc. Have any extra nails or drywall in your garage? Drive it down here! Or earmark a donation to go toward supplies.

I’m now stepping off my soapbox for the night. Good night and may God sustain us all until we meet again!


Blogger dana said...

dearest erica! we are so so so proud of you... you are in our thoughts and prayers, along with those you are working with and for... thanks for being able to go... and... i should also mention that i am SO impressed with your spreadsheet project :) we hope to see you soon! much love to you, d & j

9:45 AM  

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