Well, we are off to New Orleans again! This time delivering a check to Habitat for Humanity for their project Musician's Village.
Okka Holthuis was born and raised in Norden, a small village in northern Germany. When she and I took the truckload of stuff to Louisiana after Katrina hit the local newspaper asked for an article from Okka. There is a group of musicians there, who after reading the article decided to donate the proceeds of a benefit concert to assist the musicians in New Orleans, because, get this; they play Dixieland Jazz.
They contacted Okka, she contacted Habitat for Humanity and now you are reading about it all here and perhaps you wonder how you can help as well.
Habitat for Humanity will gratefully accept donations for the Musician's Village project at any time. We are going to be there on March 3, 2006, to hand over the gift from the Seaside Jazz Band and would gladly carry a gift from you as well.
OR ... you can just send it now ... or go to the Habitat site ... NOW!
For more information on the Musician's Village and how you can help;
I just returned to West Palm Beach, Florida, from Lafayette, Louisiana. A dear friend, Okka Holthuis, and I were the drivers of a 24' truck filled to the max with everything from water and canned food, to clothing, flashlights, generators, toys, folding chairs, camp stoves and an incredible variety of gifts to the people impacted by Katrina.
We were really just the drivers, the real movers behind this and another 14' truck of supplies, were Traynter and Meg Turpin of West Palm Beach, Florida. They were the ones who organized the neighbors and got out the word that began an amazing outpouring of compassion and caring that reflects the very best in us all.
Individuals gave whatever they could. Many asked what was needed most and then went, bought it and brought it back. Children gave toys and helped to collect and sort the many donations. The law firm of Gordon and Doner donated the truck rental, Borton Volvo covered the fuel and Equine Medicine Specialists along with Starlight Marine Services, paid the driving expense. Numerous other business owners provided cash for supplies, inventory from their stores and much more.
Friends from Michigan (connections through membership in the IMDHA), New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania (Bob and Linda Otto; Bob would answer and say "hold on, I’ll get Linda.") assisted in making connections in Louisiana and made the repeated calls that were necessary to get through the damaged phone systems. They arranged distribution, got directions, found out where the displaced people we know were located, found the connections for us to stay in the undamaged home of friends (Now known as Jennifer and Conrad Adams!) who interrupted the preparations for their wedding, which occurred the day after we left. It was a wonderful display of each person doing what they could to assist strangers in need.
I had volunteered to drive and so was not really aware of the total volume or value of the contents of the truck. Others had done the packing and on the trip out, the concerns of accessibility and distribution overshadowed thoughts of the impact of the storm and the meaning of our cargo.
Upon arrival, we were met by a group of high-school football players who had responded to unload the truck. A friend, living in Lafayette, Louisiana (Mark Babineaux and daughter Claire), had arranged to have a local church (Acadiana's Operation We Care, Lafayette, LA - http://operationwecare.net ), , accept and distribute the supplies and everything went smoothly. Many of the contents were already being sent to those who could use them even before the truck was emptied. This church had sheltered and fed over 2,000 people before, during and after the storm; a modern example of loaves and fishes.
As the truck was unloaded and in speaking with the volunteers and the church members who were running an outreach program, it began to dawn upon me the import of what was happening. The contents of the truck were far more than the items and the dollars they represent. The truck was filled with hope and love and the fact that people from around the world were stepping up and delivering support, comfort and caring in proportions beyond imagination.
I have been honored to be a small part in this first step of a journey which exemplifies the best aspects of all that we are as people and community. Weather is going to happen, perhaps through the sharing and connections we create in response, we will grow as individuals and as a culture.
Those who assisted in this particular effort are too numerous to mention individually and gave what they were able without thought of recognition. Please include them in your expressions of prayer or intention.
This work continues on many levels, myself and others are planning to return and provide services in the form of delivering additional supplies, physical labor, and stress management programs. Those of you who can provide ANY form of support, now and in the future, please contact me and consider forwarding this message. Your efforts and caring are appreciated.