People making a difference

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I was excited to see on Oprah today that John Travolta and Kelly Preston delivered a truckload of groceries to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank! Actually, I didn’t see it on Oprah itself—I had forgotten to tune in until after they showed that segment, because I was on a roll with some book ideas (yay!), but later saw it recapped. Just in case you missed my earlier link to it, and want to make a donation to a wonderful resource that is stretched to the max with serving all the evacuees that have fled to Baton Rouge, here it is: I made friends with their webmaster after he personally emailed to thank me for my modest donation, and I’m feeling quite proprietary about them now!

Speaking of Baton Rouge, Andrena called me the other night. It was wonderful to hear her voice. We had a nice phone visit and she sounded fine—though a bit weary. She says Baton Rouge has doubled in population and that, in addition to the shelters, most everyone has taken people in. She said that looking down her street, there are lots of extra cars. One thing’s for sure—if it had to happen to those lovely folks in South Louisiana, at least their culture is one of the most welcoming I’ve ever encountered. You know I’m from the South, so I’m used to Southern hospitality, but what I experienced when I was in Louisiana in May was above and beyond.

I’ve been in touch with my friend, Ellen Kennon, who has daily updates on her blog, and she is still hosting guests who have evacuated. She has a small house, but, with grace and good humor—and that native Louisiana hospitality gene going for her—she’s got five evacuees staying with her and her daughter! I was reading the housing offers at and found it just remarkable all the people who were willing to share even their small spaces with displaced families. Last I checked, 212, 447 beds had been offered by individuals and churches. If you want a heartwarming experience, go there and read the offers. It will help restore your faith in the kindness and generosity of humanity.

I’ve enjoyed the news reports of the evacuees here in Denver, experiencing a very different place than they left behind. I’m happy to say that the local animal shelter is housing pets for those that are staying in dormitories at the former Air Force base that is housing (or will be if they'll come) 1000 evacuees. Interestingly, some enterprising guys (one of whom is a Frontier Airlines exec.) who independently came up with a mission to help get evacuees here and are pitching Denver to folks housed at the Astrodome, are having a hard time getting many takers, even though they're offering them a free flight and putting them up at the Doubletree Inn with free meals and help getting established! They just aren’t ready to leave the area—so many still haven’t reconnected with family, and others just can’t conceive of life away from the home they’ve always known and loved. And who can blame them? Too, they really don’t fully understand that New Orleans will not be that place again for a long time if ever. They also think Denver will be too cold and snowy! (Our mostly mild, dry winters are one of this country's best-kept secrets.) But Denverites, like American citizens everywhere, have opened their hearts to these people and those that choose to relocate here can count on an enthusiastic reception warm enough to make up for the snow!.

By the way, for another way to make an immediate difference that bypasses the red tape, go to the Veterans for Peace site. Cindy Sheehan (the mom that camped out in Crawford) and her group are providing relief to survivors from a temporary headquarters in a middle school in Covington, Louisiana. They are accepting goods and money and volunteers. The roads are open to Covington, so people are invited to come on down and help. For an updated list of what they need, see the site.

So that’s my more upbeat report. I am less riveted to the news and more focused on making a difference in the way that I can. That certainly makes for an easier time keeping my frequency up!

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This page contains a single entry by Julia published on September 8, 2005 4:21 AM.

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