UPDATE: I had to update this post today (3/27)… A few days after my inital post, irony reared its ugly head. It seems that the organization that I asked you to give so much of yourself to has now been implicated in what could be wide spread theft — theft of money or goods, or both.
The New York Times reported Friday that more than a dozen Red Cross volunteers described an organization that had few cost controls, little oversight of its inventory and no system of basic background checks for its volunteers.
You know things are in bad shape when Congress has to coerce an organization like the Red Cross to begin investigations into blatant oversights and mismanagement within its own organization. So, for now, if you still even feel generous, I would look for another institution in which to provide your time, money, or donations. I’ve taken down the donation banner on the page indefinitely.
So, February 28, 2006 marked the 6-month point since Hurricane Katrina made landfall. I’ve watched, read, and listened to a lot of documentaries, specials and, of course, news stories in that time. Some was good news — heart-warming stories of hope and perseverance. Others paint a pretty grim picture. The level of neglect, confusion, and chaos that is still affecting the victims, and our country, leaves me in disbelief at times. In many ways, the brunt of the storm is being felt more now than it was initially.
Over the weekend, I heard that the government is asking a good deal of the people that received relief money to send some back. They “accidentally” sent them too much. WHAT?!? Okay, I understand that a storm of this magnitude had to affect the systems we had in place to assist in the aftermath, but story after story continue to show the mistakes and mismanagement that has gone on over the course of the effort. I also know that there are two sides to every story…
It’s easy to isolate all the bad — the initial F.E.M.A nightmare, the ‘Superdome’ problem, blah, blah, blah. And, I don’t want to do that; that’s not my point. Again, there has been a tremendous amount of good done as well. But, in light of all of this, you can’t see and read these stories without thinking about it on a more personal level. I live on the coast. A hurricane could just as easily come and wipe everything my family has off the map as well.
That brings me to the gist of this post, my personal responsibility to the victims of that storm and to this country. While working in the yard this weekend, I thought about all the stories I’ve digested over the past six months and realized that I could continue helping, my own way. The government is doing what they can, but the victims and we, as a country, would be nowhere near where we are now if people hadn’t made the individual efforts they did. I couldn’t think about the victims without thinking about myself — how fortunate my family and I, really are, comparatively. Life has been nothing but kind to me. I consider myself to be very lucky. There’s been a whole crap-load of hard work, luck and serendipity that has brought me to where I am now.
So, I did what I did — what I could. I hope it helps; I hope it makes it somewhere and to someone that needs it. Yeah, I don’t know with all certainty that it will, but who does? If there’s any kind of truth in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed, but, who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.
(I’m getting off my soapbox now… I put the ‘Katrina Banner’ back up in the right corner of the page and directed it to a new link at the Red Cross. Should you feel so inclined, do what you can. If it helps, remember, you can get 15 cents on the dollar back from your donation on your next tax return. 😉 )